A Forerunner of Health

The 2014 film “Fed Up” is an American documentary that advocates against the current eating habits of Americans. It predicts that in the next two decades, ninety-five percent of all Americans will become obese.

Due to the increasing rates of obesity and obesity related diseases that have invaded our country, something needs to be done in order to change the fate of the next generation. The film focuses on how the food industry strategically exploits the vulnerabilities of American families. Since the seventies, they have slowly but surely bombarded television with junk food commercials, engineered stores to sell more junk food, and have specifically targeted children to crave junk food. Studies presented in the film have proven that children who are introduced to certain ideas at a young age are more likely to maintain those habits into adulthood. If children are being raised to eat unhealthily, throughout life they will carry out the same routine that could potentially lead to disease or even death. The film included a study that showed children who were eating goldfish crackers while watching tv, were likely to eat forty-five percent more crackers because of the constant propaganda that is advertised on television.

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In order to combat the growing epidemic of child obesity and unhealthy habitual living, I propose that Natomas Charter School would implement a health unit to every grade ranging from sixth to twelfth grade. Whether it be introduced to their physical education class, or used as a related prompt in English,the school should require that the significance of nutrition and a healthy diet is stressed upon its students. I propose that teachers would be able to have much freedom on the topic. If it relates to healthy eating, teachers could implement a fun activity to class, challenge their students to cut out certain foods, or expose some of the deadly causes of junk food. As a school that so heavily encourages creativity, it would be innovational to even collaborate ideas of health and art. Though it can be argued that adding a year long health class would be impractical and costly, it doesn’t have to be expensive as it can be incorporated into already existing academic classes at Charter.

Just as we view the importance of an academic education, students should be receiving the information needed to make healthy choices. Even I felt motivated to pack my lunch with healthier options after a Good Food/Bad Food unit was introduced to my English class. Though the unit was short, I learned so many shocking facts that pushed me to want to improve in my habits. Now imagine if every grade level was being instilled with the values of eating right! Not only would it teach students to make healthier choices, it would spread to their surroundings to establish an even greater impact. Data shows that health education not only shows a difference in the lives’ of the students but of their adult figures as well.

A survey administered to sixty faculty and staff members at Natomas Charter School, reported that only eight percent of the staff did not recall receiving any valuable nutritional information during school. Other data represented that eighty-five percent of the staff members were aware of where their food currently comes from/is made from.The survey demonstrates that as adults, the faculty is aware of how to properly balance their diet and keep track of their daily intakes. The importance of a healthy lifestyle is valued by the staff members in their current lifetime, because the idea was introduced to them at a young age. The values they were taught as students will then influence the people around them and how they choose to raise their own children.

Introducing health education at a younger age is a factor that will determine how the next generation views healthy living. Another survey administered to eighty-seven students of the senior class at Natomas Charter School, reported that about eighty-six percent of the students were unaware of the current regulations put in place for the health industry. Not only were they unaware about where their food comes from but another question affirmed that more than half of the students did not recall learning about proper daily sugar intakes while in a high school class. Comparing the data from both surveys reveal that the faculty is more equipped to live healthy adult lives because of the health education they were offered during school. The students of the current senior class were unable to retain information from their health related courses because the focus in which the students were required to learn, was such a short period. Teaching students the bare minimum will not be effective in decreasing the likeliness of obesity and obesity related diseases.

It is the responsibility of schools to instill students with the skills to live independently and beneficially as adults. The state of California is making strides in implementing health related courses into schooling, but only calls for specific requirements in health education. Beginning in grades first through sixth, schools must briefly, ” include instruction in the principles and practices of individual, family, and community health”(Pearce, Josh “Healthy Schools”). As students transition into higher grades, it is required they take at least one health unit during junior high and high school. Though California’s Education Code does generally show support for health education, there are no established mandates that ensure the values of a healthy diet are being taught. Natomas Charter School has the ability to be a forerunner in advocating for this cause and change the way students view their dietary health.

As we hope our students would perform above and beyond expected standards, we must hold our school to the same account in promoting proper nutrition.