There have been so many stories recently about the obesity epidemic in the United States, with new data showing that 35.7 percent of Americans are obese according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Obesity statistics related to children are especially scary, with 17 percent of children ages 2 to 19 classified as obese. That means 12.5 million children in our country are overweight and classified as “obese” by the CDC.
As an overweight child myself, I know what it feels like to be teased for being overweight and watching my own self-esteem and self-worth plummet as a child. Nobody wants that for their own children, and schools are trying to help families fight this fight!
Walt Disney Elementary, Neil Armstrong Elementary and Bollinger Canyon Elementary are just three of our local schools who are instituting changes to make sure that we give children an opportunity to beat this epidemic. All three schools now have run clubs before school. Children are invited to run laps and show their school pride.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays at Walt Disney, more than 30 children turn out each morning at 8 a.m. Some parents join their children and run together. Teachers and staff also join students to show children that exercise matters! Neil Armstrong and Bollinger Canyon are seeing similar turnouts.
Walt Disney first grader, Addison, shares, “I get to run around the track a lot of times. I get to meet all of my friends and see new friends.”
School lunches, too, have been modified throughout the district. Salad bars are now featured at all elementary schools, with more than ten fresh items daily.
Some of the produce is even organic. No canned foods are served in the salad bar, and entrees have gotten healthier with no trans-fat and the use of whole grains. Food is made from scratch in the school district’s central kitchen, and those foods bought from vendors now have a much healthier spin.
Being overweight is neither healthy nor fun, and losing weight is an uphill battle. Teaching children when they are young how to eat healthy and exercise their bodies is a win-win.
Children are our future, and schools are doing a great job of trying to help students and their families learn to live healthier lifestyles through opportunities to participate in activities like run clubs.