Background health promotion
For every four children in NSW, one of them starts school being overweight or obese. Health reports from studies conducted since 2010 show that the rates of the prevalence of obesity affecting the school going age of 5-17 years are stabilizing (Neter, Schokker, Jong, Renders, Seidell and Visscher, 2011). However, the level at which these rates are stabilizing is alarming. It is a grave concern since overweight children, as well as teenagers, are likely to reach adulthood as obese, or worse still develop certain orthopedic problems or gastrointestinal endocrine. According to Vander Wal, and Mitchell (2011) children with obesity face the risk of having a cardiovascular disease which can be long-term as long as they are obese. When a child is overweight, their self-esteem is bound to be affected since they face discrimination and bullying from their age mates who are not obese. In a worst case scenario, the victim can develop depression (Kraak, Liverman and Koplan, 2005).
To come up with ways to reduce and prevent obesity in children, it is prudent to examine the cause. Unhealthy lifestyles are the main cause of overweight and obesity in children. Unhealthy lifestyle includes unhealthy eating patterns where the child’s consumption of Junk food is unregulated. Lack of physical activity worsens the situation since it leads to an accumulation of body fats. Another cause of obesity is genetic predisposal of a child. According to Neter, Schokker, Jong, Renders, Seidell and Visscher, 2011 in 2010 a great percentage of over 90% of K, 2 and 4 children and above 20% of those in high school were trying to live healthily by observing the guideline on vegetable consumption.
Strategies put in place to prevent and manage obesity
Due to this alarming trend, Public Health Wales postulates that children must be healthier at the age of five. To achieve their goal they have set some strategies to sensitize the environment around a child in eating and exercising habits at home and in school (Pearson, Webb and Mckeen, 2006). These strategies include educating children on the importance of healthy eating in schools. The schools in New South Wales are provided with a curriculum that understands that the challenge of obesity requires a broad approach. The schools, therefore, have strategies in place to enhance the acquisition of knowledge and development of skills as well as attitudes that influence the children’s eating habits in line with NSW.
Linking up with agencies that facilitate educating children on healthy eating helps in sensitizing children on healthy eating. For instance, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in Wales works with schools to facilitate workshops to educate children on healthy eating programs. NSW’s eating programs have enhanced healthy eating. By Zask, Adams, Brooks, and Hughes (2012) Tooty Fruity Vegie has increased consumption of fruits and vegetables in Pre-schools. They also ensure that children engage in required physical activity. In addition to physical activities schools have come up with policies as stipulated by the Social, Personal, and Health Education (PDHPE) to ensure healthy eating. Other programs include the principles of Food Dudes Program that have increased the consumption of vegetables and fruits among children.
On a normal school week, half of the students eat from the canteen not less than once a week. Having a healthy eating option at canteens is a way of NSW to achieve their main aim of reducing obesity in children by a margin of 5% by 2025. The NSW strategy contains and framework made by the government that aims at reducing the effect of chronic diseases that are lifestyle related. In 2007, NSW schools banned the sale of sugar-sweetened items in support of a healthy eating pattern. NSW has come up with various programs to promote physical activities in government schools. The Munch and Move is an NSW program that facilitates the training of trainers who handle children in physical activities. This program has policies that are in support of children’s well-being. Another program of NSW is the live life well @ school. Through this program, teachers acquire skills, confidence, and knowledge in line with the PDHPE syllabus. The PDHPE syllabus stipulates that a student should spend at least 120 minutes per week (Pearson, Webb and Mckeen, 2006). The input of parents in physical activities has a high impact. Therefore, parents are encouraged to support their children to participate in physical activities. In the early stages of five and below years, parents are advised to allow a child to have more playing time and less time on the screen. NSW also educates parents as well as family members on the importance of physical activities (Lindsay, Sussner, Kim and Gortmaker, 2006). This way, parents improve their perception of physical activities and support it. The Scholtz is an NSW website that provides the parent with more information about school physical activities (Lindsay, Sussner, Kim and Gortmaker, 2006). A teacher’s role in managing childhood obesity is very crucial. With all the policies and rules set by the NSW government, a teacher plays a great role in implementation and evaluation. To ensure that the teacher is skilled enough, NSW has put in place to enable a teacher acquire necessary skills.
Kraak, V. A., Liverman, C. T., & Koplan, J. P. (Eds.). (2005). Preventing childhood obesity: health in the balance. National Academies Press.
Lindsay, A. C., Sussner, K. M., Kim, J., & Gortmaker, S. (2006). The role of parents in preventing childhood obesity. The Future of children, 169-186.
Neter, J. E., Schokker, D. F., de Jong, E., Renders, C. M., Seidell, J. C., & Visscher, T. L. (2011). The prevalence of overweight and obesity and its determinants in children with and without disabilities. The Journal of pediatrics, 158(5), 735-739.
Pearson, P. J., Webb, P. I., & Mckeen, K. (2006). Linking teaching games for understanding and quality teaching in NSW secondary schools
Vander Wal, J. S., & Mitchell, E. R. (2011). Psychological complications of pediatric obesity. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 58(6), 1393-1401.
Zask, A., Adams, J. K., Brooks, L. O., & Hughes, D. F. (2012). Tooty Fruity Vegie: an obesity prevention intervention evaluation in Australian preschools. Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 23(1), 10-15.