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A healthier lifestyle can trim the fat on obesity

Lunch+break
Lunch break

Lunch break

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Lunch break

Mark McDonald, Staff Writer

An SHS teacher puts students in groups of three to work on a class project. If a student looks left or right, one student out of this group is likely to be overweight or obese.

“Obesity and being overweight together are the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States, close behind tobacco use. There are an estimated 300,000 deaths per year are due to the obesity epidemic,” according to the National Institutes of Health.

Obesity is the extreme of being overweight. Obesity is not the direct cause of death, but it is the number one health problem that can lead to many illnesses, and possibly to death.

Obesity can lead to problems such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, some cancers, gallbladder disease and gallstones, osteoarthritis, and gout, according the website WebMd.

“Obesity doesn’t only affect physical health,” said Mr. Elwood Perry, a health and physical education teacher. “Obesity can affect the mental health and social health of an individual. People’s self esteem may be affected by obesity. The social aspect of this would be related to out of school activities. They may be excluded from something because of their weight.”

The Body Mass Index (BMI) scale proves about one third of all students at SHS are either overweight or obese, with a small percentage being underweight, according to the school nurse Ms. Jillian Haubrich. SHS’s obesity percentages are consistent with the national average.

BMI, the current way to measure a person’s status of health, compares a person’s height and weight, but this scale does not take into account body fat percentage or muscle mass. A new and improved way of measuring obesity is to use the height of a person in inches and divide it in half, and compare this number to the circumference of a person’s waist in inches.

“The circumference of the waist should be no more than half of the person’s height,” said Perry. “This is more accurate because belly fat is one of the more dangerous types of fat.”

Believe it or not, the Stroudsburg Area School District provides all of the proper foods that the United States Department of Agriculture recommends students eat in order to maintain a healthy diet. 

Chartwells provides the food for Stroudsburg School District, and the food director is Ms. Nancy Franks.  She explained the organization’s mission: “To nourish the bodies, minds and spirits of our students and pave the way for a​ lifetime of success and well-being.” 

Franks believes that Chartwells does an excellent job of making sure all food follows the USDA guidelines.  They even go above and beyond. For example, they opted to switch to healthier wheat breads.

The USDA’s strict requirements makes it very selective as to what Mrs. Franks can provide. The government provides these guidelines to the schools for a reason. Therefore, students will be able to get the proper nutrition in school.

Students must select at least three components of the five that are offered. The five components that are offered include a meat, grain, vegetable, fruit, and milk. At least one of these components must be a fruit or vegetable in a ½ cup portion size. Not all students take everything they are allowed to take, explained Franks.

School lunch is just a small part of obesity in America.. It is made very simple for students to eat the proper foods in school, because everything they need is already prepared for them. Students do not necessarily need to go to the grocery store and buy ingredients for a salad. These students have a variety of salads to choose from on a daily basis.

“The school lunch nutritional values are altered to give the student healthier choices,” said Perry. “The issue is the student could say they don’t like what the school provides and pack their own lunch,” he added.  In fact, students can pack as much junk food as they want, which can be detrimental to their health.

Students can better educate themselves in multiple ways. Health classes provide knowledge for students on what they should be doing to stay healthy. Students today have more knowledge available than any other generation. Below there is a link from The American Heart Association with specifics on what to do to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Although the obesity numbers at SHS have risen, some students are well educated on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Junior Taylor Garrett says that one thing she does to try to maintain a healthy lifestyle is to “try and eat minimally processed foods.”

Often, people tend to wait for something bad to happen before they decide to change their lifestyle, explained Perry.

There are plenty of resources available for people who want to choose a healthier lifestyle.  Clearly, everyone is capable of making changes for the better.  A few suggestions are to work together with friends and family to eat healthier and become more active. The bottom line is a healthier approach can improve one’s quality of life.

For further information or knowledge, feel free to check out these sites below.

http://www.choosemyplate.gov

(http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/The-American-Heart-Associations-Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp#.WhROgFWnHrc)

 

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