Childhood Obesity: Complex Problem
(Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- There’s not just one cause for the epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States, according to researchers contributing to a special report released this week.
Studies point to racial and ethnic disparities, the availability of fast food, exposure to advertising, and the presence of soft drinks in schools, among other contributors, as reasons for the surging numbers of children with excess weight.
Researchers from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor report 67 percent of middle schools and 83 percent of high schools have contracts with soft drink companies, meaning students often have constant access to soft drinks.
Another study reveals time in physical education classes decrease as students age. Eighth graders spend an average of 172 minutes each week while 12th graders only spend 89 minutes in PE class each week.
“Research is showing us that we have in our schools and communities a perfect storm that will continue to feed the childhood obesity epidemic until we adopt policies that improve the health of our communities and our kids,” Frank Chaloupka, head of a team of University of Illinois at Chicago researchers who also contributed to the special report, was quoted as saying.
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SOURCE: The Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2007;33, Supplement 1:S147-S310