Childhood obesity is a broad topic and Jordi suggested possibly narrowing my search down. Although I’m still not positive if I want to do this, I decided to think about a specific aspect of childhood obesity I might be most interested in. At first I thought I wanted to focus on physical activity, being an athlete; but I then thought about my eating habits right now. Playing a competitive D1 sport, I basically can eat whatever I want sometimes; when I’m in season, I do. In my mind, as long as I run off the amount I eat, everything will balance out. Well, yes that may be true right now but I can’t imagine thinking that way as a child. I then realized that a big problem is the eating habits of children. After researching the subject, I found that it’s more important for young children to eat certain foods in order to keep an energy balance. Also, children don’t necessarily understand the concept of eating a certain amount of calories and then having to burn that same amount of calories in order to maintain a certain weight- especially since kids are growing and can’t completely maintain one weight. In this respect, if I decide to focus in on childhood obesity, it will be on the nutritional values and eating habits to keep a healthy weight.
After broadly searching for information on childhood obesity’s role in government actions, I decided to look closer at what society is doing to help the problem. I used the UPenn think tank that Brody showed us and found the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in my home state of Maryland. From this site, I found a list of different health communication campaigns and programs that NICHD is involved in. One such program is We Can!. We Can! stands for Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition. It is a national movement that is designed to give parents, caregivers and the entire community a way to help children 8-13 years old stay at a healthy weight. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Cancer Institute sponsor the program. We Can! provides strategies and information about healthy weight basics, eating right, getting active, reducing screen time, and getting involved with the community. Specifically in the eating right section, the program has developed this chart to help kids understand what types of foods to eat less often. We Can! also has different cooking tips to lower calories, portion sizes, and better choices for eating out. Overall, the program provides the tools that families need to create an environment that is suitable for the health of growing children.
This program contributes to my overall goal of finding a way to fight childhood obesity by providing me with a societal group that has set up tools and resources for families and communities. The information is reliable because it comes from medical research centers. This program also highlights the eating healthy aspect of childhood obesity, which I may decide to focus on. The audience for this specific program is parents, parental figures and communities.