An Unnoticed, but Heavy Topic

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obeseBARNET- Obesity is one of the most significant and prevalent health issues in America. Taking a deeper look at the problems and taking a microscopic look at the overweight obstacles children face are quite astounding.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), 1 in every 3 children is considered unhealthily heavy. Lack of a healthy lifestyle or saying someone is "overweight" are phrases with much flexibility in society, but in the doctor's office, these terms have concrete meanings.

 Childhood obesity is when a child is affected by their body mass index-for-age (BMI) percentile, having it be higher than 95%. A child is considered overweight if their BMI ranges in between 85% and 95%. BMI takes into account a child's age, height and weight-- the average among a certain category is at the 50% mark.

The Barnet School engages their students in a physical education class twice a week, which doesn't quite meet the CDC standard of 60 minutes of childhood activity daily, in addition to daily recess time and other activities. "What we do here is physical education two times a week, which is great. It could be better but I understand and take advantage of those two days to create a habit like I mentioned before, that's my job, to create habits; something they can continue doing," Eric Bogie, physical education teacher at the Barnet School said.

Obesity amongst children and adolescents is extremely important because it can lead to lifelong complications and other diseases. Obesity increases the risk of patients developing: coronary heart disease, Type-2 diabetes, liver and gallbladder diseases, as well as breast and colon cancers.

"Well first of all, I just think about health and overall health from now and to the future. We think about the complications that it can result in with it being diabetes as well as heart disease and that concerns me," Bogie stated, "When you think about your health, that' the most important think you have."

The problem has been identified across the nation, but there are a multitude of elements that factor into the epidemic.

"It's certainly not helping with videogames and television... it's easy. I find it sometimes to be a babysitter and we know that our children are safe. When we're outside we [adults] always have to be aware of where they [children] are. So there's a combination of many thing that are not helping with the cause," Bogie added.

Some corporations have taken notice of the obesity problem and are encouraging more physical activity... even if it's indoors. Nintendo started the trend back in 2006 when their Wii console was released and used movement-detection technology. A couple year's after that, Microsoft's Xbox360 and Sony's Playstation 3 both offered interactive game-types. Other forms of technology like the advanced wristwatch known as Fitbit and even something as simple as a Sketcher's Shape-up sneaker track and promote exercise.

With videogames and being trapped indoors only being one component of this nationwide concern, physical play and healthy eating also play a larger than life role.

"Drink a lot of water to replenish your body so you can stay active and always be able to do things, and make healthy choices for food so you can grow bigger and stronger," Carter Hillicker said. "When I play basketball, I'll usually drink a lot of water or Gatorade so I can restore the electrolytes and get the energy I need."

Eighth grader, Carter Hillicker of the Barnet School centered one of his science projects on healthy living. He gave many tips to classmates about treating your body right and doing everything you can to stay healthy.

Fast food is another reason for the amount of obese children throughout the United States. Although many chain restaurants like McDonald's and Burger King have made their nutritional facts public, few seem to resist the greasy goodness. Children should be taking in anywhere from 1,800 to 2,200 calories per day. A Whopper from Burger King racks up about 670 of those calories, which is close to 1/3 of the daily intake. The Whopper also packs-in 38 grams, which is also an increased amount than the children should be consuming for one meal.

At the Barnet School, paid and reduced lunch drifts away from the "gross cafeteria food" connotation. Children are provided with fruits and vegetables daily as well as have access to water and milk for their refreshment. Once in a while, children will be "spoiled" on Friday and have a chance to get some oatmeal raisin cookies said one lunch lady.

Youths and adolescents spend the majority of their time at school, however, other corporations and organizations have been taking action to minimize this oversized problem.

"We [NVRH] have been working on obesity and poverty-related issues. We're holding our own amongst the rankings in obesity. We've also made an improvement in the amount of physical activity," Laural Ruggles, Public Relations Rep. at NVRH mentioned. "

Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital runs various campaigns throughout the year to promote healthy living. The month of April kicks off the hospital's "No Sugar Added Campaign." Launched in 2014, this campaign is supposed to help people realize what exactly is in their beverages and makes an attempt to have people reduce the amount of sweetened beverages they take in.

"We have quite a few different initiatives that the hospital works on. For example, we have our No Sugar Added Campaign, which tries to get people to drink water instead of sugary beverages. We also partner with others in the community, there's a lot of resources out there, many people want to get healthy," Ruggles added.

While gym class is one thing, schools as a whole are also trying to rid the problem. Over in Barnet, some classes take the kids for a walk outdoors or even put on events. "One of the things we do here is put on a Winter Walk," Bogie said. That walk encourages students, faculty, as well as parents to walk rather than driving.

"There's a walk to school day, an international walk to school day. We still have a problem with obesity in this country and a lot of it is because kids aren't active enough," said John Kaplan, Director of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Program.

With a problem growing dramatically over the last thirty years, obesity is alive and well. Although many have taken note of the issue, there seems to be too many factors to eliminate the problem. Currently, there are 42 million children under the age of five who are obese, 25/30 years down the road, this problem could lead to a handful of other health complications.