Obesity and Society: Childhood Impact

By Alessandra Esguerra, International News Editor

If we are naturally becoming a larger society, how do we ensure that being health-conscious is so important?  We live in a world that children are more likely to watch television instead of playing outside.  Even adults have a hard time eating healthy instead of takeout or microwaveable dinners.

Eight years ago, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation committed $500 million to fight childhood obesity.  Last week, the foundation promised another $500 million. Over the next ten years, the foundation will put a greater priority on children before entering kindergarten.  The foundation has said that it will support parental and prenatal education to the advantages of a healthy lifestyle, especially among poor and minority children.  John Lumpkin, director of the foundation’s childhood obesity efforts said, “There’s no reason children under the age of five should be exposed to that,” in regards to children drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages, a key priority to curb obesity in young children.

While the foundation promoted nutrition and exercise in schools and towns, it is harder to change messages children receive at home.  For example, children see thousands of food commercials a year, but very few, if any, are for healthy, non-processed meals.

Today, most parents work longer hours and this makes it hard to prepare the healthiest of meals.  On top of that, parents are more cautious about kids playing outside without supervision, especially in urban areas.  These factors at home make it even harder to make sure children have a healthy lifestyle.

In order to give children the best chance at a healthy life, it must be a community effort.  School is only seven hours a day for eight months of the year.  If a community supports being active, children will be more likely to be active with other kids rather than sit at home.  Environmental factors are the largest influences in childhood obesity and it includes everyone.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 10th print edition.

Contact Alessandra at


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