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Community Commentary: Childhood obesity tipping the scale

October 26, 2011|By Hojjat Sandi

It's no secret that childhood obesity is a major problem in the United States. In fact, over the past 30 years, childhood obesity rates have tripled. Given the advancements in science and medicine during that same time frame, not to mention improvements in how schools educate children about eating and exercising properly, this is surprising and alarming. As rates continue to rise, what can we do to combat childhood obesity?

As an educator, I believe it's going to take a group effort. While the brunt will fall on parents, schools also play a large role in developing children who have a lifelong understanding of the relationship between a well-balanced diet, daily exercise and a healthy body. Schools must reinforce the benefits of exercising at least 30 minutes daily and why whole and natural foods are healthier than processed foods.

With fast food restaurants cluttering every Main Street across America, it's not hard to see why obesity rates continue to rise. As our lives get more hectic and we live on the go, go, go, fast food is often an easy and affordable alternative to preparing a meal or choosing a healthier option. However, if we're going to make an impact, it's up to the parents to make those hard choices and thus lead by example.

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A primary obstacle that parents and schools face in helping children develop appropriate eating habits is that every child is unique — so the traditional school lunch menu that has two to three options may not be suitable to everyone's tastes. In order to really make an impact, if possible, dietary offerings should be tailored to the interests of each individual student.

At Fusion Academy & Learning Center Huntington Beach, we are considering the introduction of a lunch program with Chef by Request, to create a lunch menu that is ideal to our students' specific tastes. While this would be difficult for most schools to offer, there are still plenty of opportunities for traditional schools to assist students in identifying healthy menu choices that present long-term benefits.

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