The Problem of Obesity Among School Students

Obesity is a serious health problem, faced by many individuals. With fast lives and rapidly changing cultural and traditional values, junk food is now a way of life. To add to it, aerated drinks and colas have replaced milk and healthy drinks such as fresh fruit juices. Children and individuals prefer to consume outside food which is devoid of any nutrients but considerably high in calorie, exposing the consumers to the risk of obesity and subsequent health problems which are caused due to obesity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) (2008) obesity is cause primarily due to the intake of foods high in saturated fats and sugars coupled with little or no physical exercise.

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This essay aims to examine the ways in which the problem of obesity can be effectively tackled by altering the food habits of children and individuals and encouraging them to eat home cooked meals rather than the outside junk or fast foods. The school store or canteen should also consider replacement of the regular chips, burgers and soda drinks with healthier options such as flavored milk, sandwiches and nutritious meals.

While the changes in the eating habits will reduce the hazards to health caused due to the fast foods, they will also benefit and strengthen the familial values which many children and adults have drifted away from.

The increasing problem of obesity has out numerous individuals at serious health risks (Swallen, Reither, Haas & Meier, 2005). Obesity is known to cause several health problems including heart disease, blood pressure and diabetes (Swallen, Reither, Haas & Meier, 2005). Obesity also causes low self esteem and many other psychological problems such as depression (Swallen, Reither, Haas & Meier, 2005). It is however, not very difficult to tackle obesity if collective efforts are made. The primary reason for obesity is the emergence of fast food culture. Children and adults are now more attracted and habituated to eating outside. As a result of this, unhealthy foods are consumed as opposed to healthy home cooked foods. Milk is also losing its importance from the diet of most individuals. With the help of few simple measures the situation can be controlled to a very great extent.

Parents must encourage their children to drink milk and fresh fruit juices rather than consuming the virtually nutrient-less cola or aerated drinks. Most parents do not have time to cook and serve meals for their children and families as a result of which the eating habits of children are fast changing. Eating regular home cooked meals must be encouraged among the children, by the parents. Families must see to it the three regular meals including breakfast, lunch and dinner must necessarily comprise of home cooked food like dals, rice, vegetables, which provide the necessary nutrition to individuals.

School authorities can stop the sale of fast foods such as burgers, pizzas and soda drinks from their school canteens or stores. Students must be encouraged to bring packed food from home including home-made sandwiches, rolls, seasoned rice or any food coked at home. The school stores can include much healthy food options in their menu, rather than the packaged chips and wafers. These can be replaced by rolls or complete food meals at subsidized rates for the students. The inclusion of milk and juices in the school store or canteen can also aid the inculcation of intake of nutritious food to a very great extent. Milk can be provided to the students in various forms such as milk shakes.

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Students and children must be made aware of the detrimental effects of cola drinks and the health benefits of milk. Posters can be put up in the relevant areas of the school to educate the students of the changes and their potential benefits. The health benefits of eating healthy home cooked foods must be routinely explained to the students and even the families through simple means such as circulars. With several researches and studies confirming the negative influence of obesity on the physical, psychological and social functions of individuals (Swallen, Reither, Haas & Meier, 2005), it is high time schools take the lead and adopt reasonable measures so that the food habits and the subsequent health of the students and children could be changed for the better.

References

Swallen KC, Reither EN, Haas SA, Meier AM., (2005). Overweight, obesity, and health-related quality of life among adolescents: the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Pediatrics, 115:340-347.

World Health Organization (WHO) (2008), Web.

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