Childhood Obesity: A Public Health Issue Essay

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Obesity rates in the United States are alarming, with more than one-third of U.S. adults and 17% of children qualifying as obese with a Body Mass Index greater than 30.0 (Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 2015). Even more frightening is the growth rate of this crippling health epidemic; between 1980 and 2014, obesity has doubled for adults and tripled for children (CDC, 2015). The physical consequences of rising obesity rates in our country include an abundance of physical ailments including type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, arthritis, elevated cholesterol, and even some cancers. Additionally, obesity-related health care costs to our country are estimated at $147 billion annually, plus the costs of productivity lost at …show more content…
Federally-funded school meal programs, including the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP), serve an average of 31.3 million lunches and 11.1 million breakfasts per day at a cost to the country of $11.1 billion in 2011 (Food & Nutrition Services, 2012). These federally-funded meals are an excellent opportunity for regulation of nutrition as well as education regarding healthy choices. Obesity is clearly a great threat to the health of our nation, and the federal government must step in to defend its citizens against this growing threat. Children are at the mercy of their families, their social conditions, and their schools, predisposing them to obesity through poor nutritional options and a lack of education; the federal government must intervene through regulation of school meals and snacks to protect children from the abundance of unhealthy options while also educating them and reducing childhood obesity.

In 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which works with Food & Nutrition Services to develop guidelines for the NSLP, proposed new regulations for school lunches in the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA). The rules included calorie guidelines according to age group and also outlined requirements for vegetable, fruit, protein, and starch components of the meals. While the USDA guidelines for meals were
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