The changing face of student health and safety in educational institutes
The average age of a child is now eleven years old, with children as young as three being diagnosed with diabetes. In the last ten years, there has been a significant increase in childhood obesity rates, and an estimated fifty percent of children between the ages of six and seventeen are now overweight or obese- that’s more than thirty-six million kids. These startling numbers serve as a reminder that we need to be aware not only of what we put into our bodies but also how we treat our body. Here are five easy ways you can help make the change for the next generation.
The Effects of Unhealthy Eating Habits
Children don’t always know what is good for them and many parents don’t either. Eating habits are established at a young age and can be difficult to break as they grow. The effects of unhealthy eating habits on children can be devastating; it may lead to obesity, diabetes, or even cancer. A major factor in the rising rates of childhood obesity is a lack of physical activity- many children spend too much time sitting in a chair or playing with a screen that they barely have time to play outside.
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Dangerous Substances in Schools
The first way parents can help their children is by being aware of what’s in their school. This includes not only the food they consume but also the substances used in the classroom. The CDC reports that while only about 4% of children are exposed to tobacco smoke, more than half of them are exposed to secondhand smoke at home and school. Studies show that exposure to tobacco smoke before age six increases a child’s risk for developing asthma and chronic lung diseases later on.
Additionally, the CDC found that 34% of American schools have detectable levels of lead based products, such as lead paint or old water pipes, which can pose a severe threat to young students.
A study done by the World Health Organization found most schools contained pesticides and other chemicals that could be harmful if students were exposed to them over time. Lastly, one out of four schools fail to meet federal safety guidelines for lead content in drinking water and student blood-lead levels (which may account for some behavioral problems).
Making the Change for the Next Generation
With so many children overweight or obese, it’s important to keep in mind the health of our next generation. Here are five easy ways you can help make the change for the next generation:
- Encourage them to eat breakfast. Breakfast is a good way to start off a day and provides energy for the whole day. Studies have shown that eating breakfast can also help young people learn better and stay more focused on their work.
- Keep track of their weight gain. A lot of parents don’t realize how much weight their kids are gaining- some as fast as three pounds a month!
- Encourage exercising outside of school hours. Physical activity is vital for children’s growth and development- from their motor skills to reduced risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
- Eat together as a family. It has been shown that families who eat together have healthier diets, lose weight more easily, and have stronger relationships with each other. Eating together also helps instill healthy eating habits in your children by modeling good behavior for them.
- Limit screen time. Screen time is associated with obesity, decreased self-esteem, impaired academic performance, increased aggression, sleep problems, anxiety, depression, and mood disorders among others. It’s difficult to monitor screen time precisely but limiting it allows kids to be more active without being sedentary which can lead to obesity issues down the road.”
Have a Discussion About Healthy Eating Habits
Healthy eating habits are crucial to everyone, but they’re especially important for children. Children are more in tune with the foods they eat and what it does to their body. It is very likely that food insecurity plagues children too which can lead to poor health later on in life.
One of the most effective ways you can promote healthy eating habits is by having a discussion about them. Talk with your kids or students about what they eat on any given day, and what they would like to change about it. Sharing your own personal experiences is an excellent way to get others interested in changing their lifestyle. If you had a hard time making healthier decisions for yourself, why not try getting creative? Get your favorite fruits and vegetables ready so that when you’re hungry, there is something available that will satisfy you without any guilt!
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Encourage Physical Activity as Much as Possible
Children are constantly on the go, spending hours in school, at extracurricular activities and even sometimes after school. These children are easily burning off two hundred-three hundred calories by the end of the day. With all these activities it’s important that they stay active and healthy. Encourage them to participate in physical activity as much as possible. By staying physically active they can reduce their chances of developing weight related diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
With the new school year just around the corner, it is important to think about the health and safety of our children. By making small changes in our daily habits, we can have a huge impact on the health of the next generation. With the help of local authorities, parents, and teachers, we can help our children grow up to be healthy adults with a focus on prevention.
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