Childhood Obesity & Health Education

Childhood Obesity & Health Education

Childhood obesity has reached alarming proportions in the United States, and not only does it cause problems for the children today, but it leads them into cardiovascular complications in the future and a very good chance of developing cardiovascular disease and even heart attacks and strokes at an early age (American, 2005). Obesity is defined as having a body weight > 20 percent over the recommended weight for height, or > 85th percentile for Body Mass Index (Summerfield, 2000). To prevent complications from obesity, reaching and maintaining an appropriate body weight is important, and the American Heart Association recommends small but permanent changes in eating habits rather than a series of short term changes which cannot be maintained to achieve this.

The purpose of teaching health education classes about normal body weight and maintenance is that overweight children become overweight adults, and being overweight has serious complications in later life, causing coronary artery disease and damage to the heart, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes, causing high blood pressure, diabetes and low HDL (good cholesterol) levels (American/Exercise, 2005; American/Overweight, 2005).

The client population is children from grades K through 12, since excess weight is now being found in young children: statistics for 2000 show that among white children aged 6-11, 11.9 percent of boys and 12 percent of girls were overweight; among African American children aged 6-11, 17.6 percent of boys and 22.1 percent of girls were overweight; and among Mexican Americans, 27.3 percent of boys and 19.6 percent of girls were overweight (American/Overweight, 2005).

A nutritional counselor will assess the needs of the children based on age/developmental level and prepare dietary guidelines to be taught in the classes, and handouts to be taken home to the parents. This will be in accordance with the recommendations of the American …

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