Many children living in low income neighborhoods face critical challenges with respect to their weight, as well as their dietary and exercise habits. It is important to recognize these concerns and to consider expanded interventions in order to accomplish the objectives sought to promote weight loss and improved physical activity. Under these circumstances, many children do not possess the knowledge and wherewithal that is necessary to make informed decisions regarding nutrition and physical activity (Ogden and Carroll, 2010). As a result, they are unable to capitalize on the benefits of proper nutrition and exercise as part of a healthier lifestyle (Ogden and Carroll, 2010). However, if they are provided with adequate education and nutritional guidance, there is an opportunity to increase their knowledge of these factors and to adopt lifestyle interventions that will promote greater health and wellbeing (Ogden and Carroll, 2010).
Based upon existing research profiles, there is a perceived gap between actual knowledge and information that students possess in regards to their nutrition and exercise needs (Budd, 2006). Therefore, it is necessary to address these challenges through organized interventions that will also capture students’ attention and maintain their focus throughout the intervention (Budd, 2006). Based upon existing research (Franks et.al, 2007), it is likely that school-based interventions will be most successful when there are a number of lessons learned that are interesting, fun, and attract students’ attention for longer periods of time. Current interventions are useful and effective to some degree, but may not be applicable in many low income areas where school-based resources are severely limited (Franks et.al, 2007). Therefore, when resources are available, they must be used wisely and effectively as a means of establishing support and need for these interventions in schools where disparities are evident and have led to serious problems (Franks et.al, 2007).
From a self-reporting perspective, it is evident that the benefits of school-based interventions are useful; however, the lasting impact of these interventions has yet to be explored in depth (Budd, 2006). It is essential to promote intervention mechanisms that will hold students’ interest because this is critical in achieving long-term success and habitual compliance (Budd, 2006). These interventions also support greater education and understanding of the need for improved nutritional knowledge and guidance for students who otherwise would not obtain this knowledge in the home environment (Gortmaker et.al, 1999). Students must recognize the critical nature of obesity and must be provided with the tools that will allow them to make informed decisions regarding nutrition and exercise at all times (Gortmaker et.al, 1999). However, students are not the only individuals who require interventions, as parents must be provided with education and guidance regarding proper nutrition that must be applied in the home environment (Gortmaker et.al, 1999). Therefore, a comprehensive approach must be considered that will enable parents and students to gain much-needed education regarding nutrition and exercise (Gortmaker et.al, 1999).
Although the intervention that was previously summarized was successful in some ways, a widespread and comprehensive approach must be considered that will attract the support of parents and students. Both students and parents should learn how important proper nutrition is at all levels in order to promote healthy physical and mental development (Budd, 2006). However, disconnect between the objectives and available resources of many schools in depressed neighborhoods where obesity rates are high and limited guidance regarding nutrition and physical activity is available (Budd, 2006). As a result, it is essential to expand intervention methods that will have a significant impact on younger students who otherwise might not take these concerns too seriously (Budd, 2006).
School-based interventions must utilize existing strategies that have been successful in the past and enhance and adapt these strategies to accommodate students throughout low income communities where knowledge is low (Budd, 2006). From this perspective, it may be argued that there are many opportunities for growth and expansion of the appropriate initiatives when knowledge-based resources are available (Budd, 2006). Since obesity is a primary health concern, it is important to identify areas where health-related information may be provided to students in a format that is easy to understand and to adapt to their own live (Budd, 2006). The nutrition concerns that are common to this population must include nutritional guidance to avoid fatty foods and high calorie drinks and sweets in favor of healthier options such as raw vegetables and fruits (Budd, 2006).
The interventions that have been conducted must serve as a model for future interventions and practices in areas where there are significant socioeconomic challenges. Therefore, it is evident that additional models must be considered in order to accomplish expanded student learning and education regarding nutrition and exercise. It is important to recognize that different models may be helpful in assisting students in low income neighborhoods in gaining access to nutritious foods more often, such as in the classroom or cafeteria setting. In some cases, students might not have access to these foods in the home environment on a consistent basis. From this perspective, it is necessary to evaluate these interventions and to take the steps that are necessary to produce viable outcomes and improved nutrition, as well as expanded physical activity at school and at home. These efforts will encourage greater compliance with the challenges of reducing obesity in low income families where resources and poor nutrition are common.
- Budd, G. (2006). School based obesity prevention: research, challenges, and recommendations. J School Health, 76, 485-95.
- Franks, A., Kelder, S., Dino, G., Horn, K., Gortmaker, S., Wiecha, J., et al. (2007). School-based programs: lessons learned from CATCH, Planet Health, and Not-On-Tobacco. Prev Chronic Dis, 4 (2), A33.
- Gortmaker, S., Peterson, K., Wiecha, J., Sobol, A., Dixit, S., Fox, M., et al. (1999). Reducing obesity via a school-based interdisciplinary intervention among youth: Planet Health. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 153 (4), 409-18.
- Odgen, C., & Carroll, M. (2010). Prevalence of Obesity Among Children and Adolescents: United States, Trends 1963–1965 Through 2007–2008. National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, Hyattsville, MD.