Draft: Government Policy and Obesity

****Just a little information before reading:

I have chosen to work and develop my own policy in attempt to reduce obesity rates in children based on suggestions from Stephanie and people in class. For the draft I have decided to hold off on that part for now and focus on developing a layout that would clearly define the problem that I am focusing on I am open to any types of suggestions because I am feeling a bit stuck right now. So please feel free share your thoughts.

How can government policy contribute the reduction of childhood obesity?

When viewing the United States as a whole, the prevalence of obesity has seen a significant spike in numbers within recent years specifically regarding the well being of children. After further investigation a heavy emphasis has been placed on children’s nutrition, which received massive amounts of responsiveness from both professionals in the both the political and health field as well as concerned parents. As a response, a number of educational policies have been enacted as a way of closely reaching out to children in attempt to reduce obesity rates and promote a healthier generation.

The childhood obesity epidemic has been going on for nearly 30 years however in more recent times, there has been a substantial amount of action taken in order to address this problem. By choosing to regulate school lunches the logic stands strong due the fact that children consumer almost half of their daily amount of calories while being at school.

In 2008 the Institute of Medicine committee set out to further examine the content of school lunches throughout the United States. When comparing their findings to the general population, the results were no surprise. The data describes the typical meal served in a school cafeterias setting consists of a limited variety of fruits and vegetables being paired with a high volume of refined grains. At this point the USDA guidelines were based off of standards that were put in place in 1995. This has raised a red flag for many states because schools that are only under federal regulation are not making the cut when it comes to providing students with a nourishing atmosphere.

After deep consideration associated with childhood obesity and the findings from the Institute of Medicine the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010” was enacted by Congress as a way of taking action. This new policy called for a massive revision of school lunch standards and put into place an upgraded set of principles that directly correlated with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These parameters successfully mapped out how school systems could act in a way that would mirror what a healthy lifestyle should consist of however; two years after the program launched it became weakened by a number of different factors.

When Congress decided to revamp the school lunch guidelines, their intentions were to create healthier lunch options that would ultimately reduce the number of overweight and obese children in the United States. While they were successful in creating the appropriate standards, they were not prepared for the reactions that were received from students. Across all of the schools that implemented this program, a common issue was the increased amount of plate waste compared to the waste received prior to the policy change. This clearly expresses that the new change was not liked among the students and even after period to deal with the adjustment, the amount of waste being produced stayed remained a substantially higher level as opposed to before the switch. Along with the rejection of the new food, a separate wave of students withdrew from even purchasing a lunch and schools struggled to meet certain dietary requirements due to high costs and low budgets.

As a result the House of Representatives had to make the difficult decision of offering a waiver that allowed schools who had experienced six months or more of a net loss in revenue to opt out of the requirements for the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

Although this outcome would likely predict that school would go back to offering their old menu options, some schools too a much different approach. Although all states are required to follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture requirements, 19 states chose to pass additional and separate sets of nutritional standards. This data is due to the results of a nation wide survey conducted in elementary schools during 2007 and 2008. As mentioned in “Markets and Childhood Obesity”, industries have become so reliant of substituting quality for a lower price that the idea of replacing cheaper priced goods is almost impossible to visualize. One reason for this is that the price of real food has fallen making foods high in fat and sugar cheaper for consumers while another element involves innovation through technology, which is referring to the abundance of pre-packaged foods that are now readily available to consumers.
As we continue to look at the idea of a school cafeteria from a business standpoint, there are obvious assumptions that favor cost over the well being of the students, especially in public schools. School systems are generally working with a tight budget, which in the long run causes prioritization to come into play when masking decisions. When other factors such as classroom technology and sports come into play, there is little reason as to why schools would choose to invest in a higher standard of food if what they are already serving “gets the job done.”

Obviously obesity is highly prevalent throughout the United States and has been clearly acknowledged through several approaches taken to further prevent this epidemic. Not only has there been a lot of emphasis placed on healthy eating habits like the Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 that attempt to engage kids specifically in a healthy life style in school but there is also a lot of emphasis put on fitness campaigns such as “Lets Move!” by Michelle Obama. The question now after years or trial and error, what kind of approach will produce the desired results of a reduced number of children suffering from obesity?

Cawley, J.. (2006). Markets and Childhood Obesity Policy. The Future of Children,16(1), 69–88. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3556551

Frieden, T. R., Dietz, W., & Collins, J. (2010). Reducing childhood obesity through policy change: Acting now to prevent obesity.Health Affairs, 29(3), 357-63. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/204624035?accountid=14605

Hinman, K. (2011). The School Lunch Wars. JSTOR, (536), 3-5.

Jennifer A. Woo Baidal, M.D., M.P.H., and Elsie M. Taveras, M.D., M.P.H.N Engl J Med 2014; 371:1862-1865November 13, 2014DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1409353

Mantel, B. (2010, October 1). Preventing obesity. CQ Researcher20, 797-820. Retrieved from http://library.cqpress.com/

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2 thoughts on “Draft: Government Policy and Obesity

  1. slaudeman says:

    Hi,

    I think that most of what you have looks very good thus far. However, the whole thing reads a little bit like a bullet point list. I think that you could benefit from finding a way to start to join it all together with transitions. It reads as a factual list of items. From what you have said in class about your research, I think that you have a lot more to say about the subject. I realize that you have said at the beginning you would be holding off of actually proposing anything, but I think that you need to begin to incorporate some of your own conclusions based on the research that you have done. I think that that would begin to help you draw the pieces together and transition into the part of the paper when you talk about your proposed policies. I think that maybe subheadings could be useful to break up the categories you are talking about, as well. Then, you could have a separate, smaller conclusion for each section. Other than that, I think you have a great start. There are a couple of small grammar errors, but nothing too glaring. I like the topics that you have addressed, and I am very interested to see how you continue from here. I also think that your idea to focus on one segment of the paper and then move forward to your own conjectures is a good choice, as long as the two parts flow together in the finished product.

    -Sara Laudeman

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  2. Colin Murphy says:

    Hi Anna,

    You’ve selected a very interesting and particularly relevant topic for your research this semester! I think writing about something you’re interested in is definitely a crucial step in setting yourself up for success; great work here. I agree with Sara’s comment that your paper “reads a little bit like a bullet point list,” but don’t worry – this will be very helpful as you build around this strong foundation in backing your claims and showing the logical steps you take. As I see you’ve already given my draft a read, you surely noticed it reads in a similar way; we’ll be able to incorporate our research into our final papers without too many headaches.

    Forming your own conclusions and backing them up with your supportive research is obviously one of the main goals to keep in mind. Take a stance in your argument and support it. Consider the opposing side too, and explain the technicalities behind the other argument. I’m not saying this is necessarily an argumentative essay, but the end goal is to contribute something new from all your hard work. As you mention at the beginning of your paper, drafting some type of policy certainly is one way of going about doing this; you’re reaching some new proposal, backing it up with research from various stances, and finally justifying its implementation.

    To wrap up my comments, I think you’re off to a great start with a solid foundation for moving forward in this process. You have a lot of strong research here for you to use in proposing some governmental policy to influence childhood obesity. Forming this claim and backing it up effectively is where you need to head next.

    Great work, and I look forward to reading your conclusion!

    – Colin

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