Friday, April 20, 2012
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
In some people’s eyes, the title of this entry may not be politically correct. The truth is that I really couldn’t figure out what to call it, and this is what kept coming back. So, if my lack of sensitivity offends, I do apologize. Though understand, in some respects I am pointing my finger at myself! Not long ago in the Journal of the American Medical Association, an argument was made to place extremely obese children in foster care, taking them away from their parents and the environment that some believe contributed to their obesity.
There is a quiet, but increasing number of people from the medical profession and other individuals who are stating that in extreme cases the government should act in the child’s best interest and remove them, and that the idea is to not only support the child, but the whole family. The goal would be to reunite once the child was healthy and the parents took part in a parenting program so that they could provide for a healthier lifestyle for their child. To some, this puts the blame on parents, and maybe it should be, though genetic factors play a role in obesity as well. However, when one looks at the statistics, about two million children in this country are extremely obese. While most are not yet in imminent danger, some already have serious conditions, such as Type-2 diabetes, breathing difficulties and liver problems that could kill them by the time they are 30.
Doctors and researchers cite numerous examples of children that are extremely obese and the complications that have entered their lives. A 90-pound three-year old that by the time she was 12 weighed 400 pounds, had diabetes, cholesterol problems, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea. Many parents, like the ones of the previously mentioned girl, are not equipped to care for a child, especially one with the problem of obesity. Some legal professionals point to neglect and state that there is already legal authority to take these children from an environment of abuse. A 14-year old in South Carolina that weighed 555 pounds was taken from his mother and placed in the custody of an adult sister. Others say that the government has no right to tear apart families. One thing that I have not mentioned is the out of control medical costs in our nation due to issues related to obesity.
So why do I include an article on this topic here? There are a number of reasons. First of all, while we are fortunate that there are very, very few young people in our area that fall into this category, there are some. And, there are others that are overweight and like a lot of us (me included) need to live a healthier lifestyle. They are our children and we have to be concerned about their welfare, just as we are about all of our kids. We have a group of people that have taken a lead in our school in efforts associated with the Healthy Kids Act. One teacher has initiated a walking club in the mornings, and more time in PE is being dedicated to physical exercise. Our coaches run a morning strength and conditioning program three days a week that is open to anyone, and we have another coach working with young people after school that have a desire to workout. The Food and Fitness group has been doing a number of different things to promote healthier eating, with school gardens being planted, promotional activities around the school, and new food choices being served at lunch. As educators, we can provide opportunities within our programs to help with this problem. What about others?