Fleetwood Diligent in Fighting Obesity

Posted on October 26, 2011 by

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Headlines across the nation proclaim that obesity is increasingly becoming a problem. The main demographic for concern in this matter is school children ranging from elementary schools all the way up to high school.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2002 16% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 were overweight, and since then numbers have only continued to climb.

Obesity in adolescents represents one of the most challenging conditions to treat, but school health professionals can take the lead in promoting healthier lifestyles, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Fleetwood Area School District has been taking its own steps to combat this overwhelming problem.

In the 2010-2011 school year, 20.5% of Fleetwood’s high school students were placed in the “Overweight” category according to the Body Mass Index (BMI) results recorded, and another 18.2% of students were placed in the “At Risk” category.

BMI is a weight versus stature index that the school uses to determine growth patterns among students. With nearly 39% of FAHS students currently in or nearing the unhealthy range, the fight to overcome childhood obesity is evident.

Julie Knabb, a nurse at Willow Creek Elementary School, sees the effects childhood obesity has on Fleetwood every day.

“About one-third of the students in my elementary school are at risk or are overweight according to their BMIs. Starting off such a trend at such a young age could be devastating later in life.  These children may deal with health-related issues such as heart disease, diabetes, and increased blood pressure,” Knabb said.

Recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics indicates that approximately one in five children in the United States is overweight, a statistic that has nearly doubled in the last three decades. In order to fight back against this growing medical issue, FASD is starting to implement new strategies to optimize students’ overall health. School lunches now include whole wheat or multigrain bread instead of white bread, more fruit and vegetable variety, and healthy breakfast options.

Doreen Green, a nurse from Richmond Elementary School, said, “FASD has done many things to keep our students healthy, like the walking school bus program for elementary level students and the FORCE after-school exercise program.”

Green says, although the district has included many new programs to help fight childhood obesity, the downfall is often how the students spend their time outside of school.

Fleetwood Area School District has been taking many steps to help promote healthy lifestyles among its students. Even though unpleasant statistics grow year after year, Fleetwood will continue the fight against childhood and adolescent obesity.

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