In the last three decades, the prevalence of obesity—or being significantly overweight—has doubled in children and tripled in adolescents. This obesity during childhood almost always carries on to adulthood—indeed, obesity in adults has increased at rates similar to those in children. Four out of five children between the ages of 10-13 who are obese remain obese as adults, and this leads to a variety of health problems, such as heart disease, hypertension, sleeping/breathing problems, and diabetes.
While research on the possible genetic origins of the disease is ongoing, it is undeniable that certain factors and behaviors can predispose children to becoming obese. These factors include poor eating habits, inadequate physical activity, stress, low self-esteem, a negative social environment, and depression. Perhaps the most tangible and quantifiable of these behaviors are the first two: poor eating habits and inadequate physical activity. Both of these can be readily influenced in the classroom setting, and thus are the focus of AMSA’s new Project in a Box, “Obesity Prevention in the Classroom” (OPC).