Nearly one-third of children and teens — more than 23 million kids — are overweight or obese. This puts them at risk to a host of physical, mental and social problems.
It will take serious lifestyle and behavioral changes to meet the needs of this portion of the student population. Our educators are in the best position to attack the problem, but they need the proper tools.
Niche programs aimed at physical education or nutrition don’t go far enough to help students make the changes necessary to improve their physical, social and mental well-being.
Obese children are at higher risk for psychological problems such as anxiety and depression, as well as low self-esteem. On top of that, they are often targeted by bullies. So, obesity can affect mental health and social well-being, as well as physical health.
Building a culture of health requires an integrated, “whole child” approach that focuses on physical, mental, financial and social well-being.
Our teachers are the ones who can help bring about these lifestyle and behavioral changes.
Curricula should bridge the gap by bringing physical activity and health into the daily curriculum and not be an afterthought.
“If we want the best academic outcomes,” says Dr. Adele Diamond, a leading developmental cognitive neuroscientist, “the most efficient and cost-effective route to achieve that is, counterintuitively, not to narrowly focus on academics, but to address children’s social, emotional and physical development. Similarly, the best and most efficient route to physical health is through addressing emotional, social and cognitive wellness. Emotional wellness, similarly, depends critically on social, cognitive and physical wellness.”
There is a clear correlation between physical, social and financial well-being and academic performance. Other programs have not attacked the problem holistically.
Hip Hop Healthy Program for Children™ provides the solution to bridge the gap between physical activity and daily curriculum. Only an integrated health literacy curriculum focused on the “whole child” will incite change for child obesity.