Addressing and preventing obesity

By Carley Thieret | Opinions Editor

When I was in elementary school, it was always a great day when it was somebody’s birthday. Not because I cared how old they were turning, but more for the delicious treats they brought to share with the entire class. Students in elementary school today, however, will not be nostalgic towards birthday treats at school when they are older. Instead they will remember exchanging stickers and pencils, instead of the savory cupcakes and cookies that I enjoyed throughout my school years.

Although schools are putting a damper on students’ birthday celebrations, they are being proactive in attempting to halt one of the fastest growing epidemics that has hit our country in recent years: childhood obesity. According to The Center for Disease Control, in the past 30 years, obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents and adults. In 2012, more than one-third of children and adolescents in the United States were overweight.

Multiple factors contribute to being overweight, the first step to becoming obese. These factors could be genetic, behavioral or environmental, but they all lead to excess body weight in relation to height. Being overweight leads to obesity, which is defined as having excess body fat.

Behavioral factors play a large role in becoming overweight and obese, not only in children, but in adolescents and adults as well. Often times in cases of obesity we cannot control genetic or environmental factors, but we can control our behavior. For youth, many begin to point the finger at school lunches for serving unhealthy meals such as pizza, burgers and other fried selections, but the fault should not be placed solely on the school. Children are given the option to pack their lunches, and it is the parent’s responsibility to establish a healthy eating environment at home.

Establishing a healthy lifestyle from a young age not only helps to prevent childhood obesity but also limits future health risks as an adolescent and adult. Obesity is not a disease that can just be cured with the snap of a finger or by taking a magic pill. Our health and well being is something that must be regulated for our entire life and something that we must take very seriously.

Engaging in healthy eating habits and exercise are not only beneficial in preventing obesity, but can be enjoyable as well. One of the most common fears heading into college is the freshman 15, and it’s safe to say that somewhere in those four years of college one will gain some weight. Whether it is the bar specials, fast food or late night pizzas, college isn’t exactly the best place to advertise a healthy lifestyle, or is it?

Although there are temptations everywhere on college campuses, there are also plenty of ways to establish a healthy lifestyle as well. You don’t have to be Misty May-Treanor to play in the Power Center’s intramural volleyball league, and the spin classes they offer are open to all skill and fitness levels. These opportunities that are right on our own campus not only help us maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout college, but can also provide us with lifelong hobbies.

Everyone is busy. Between school, work and a social life it is easy to develop bad eating habits. It’s important to establish a healthy lifestyle at a young age, however, because it is something that we carry with us for the rest of our lives. According to the Center for Disease Control, Children who are obese are likely to be obese as adults, making them more at risk for health problems later in life such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and cancer.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be challenging, especially when the junk food is calling your name, but devoting yourself to a healthy lifestyle is a lot easier than suffering from health problems later in life. So, think twice before you grab that next candy bar.

Carley Thieret is a junior Advertising and Journalism major and can be reached at