Wild pitch

 

Health and Wellness

An increasingly sedentary lifestyle among our youngsters coupled with diets rife with foods high in sugar, high in fat, and low in nutritional value are conspiring to produce a generation that is overweight and overwrought.

Over the past thirty years, statistics show that childhood obesity rates in America have tripled, and today nearly twenty percent of children in America are overweight or obese. At the same time, we are seeing a growing number of our children internalizing these and other struggles resulting in increased rates of depression and childhood anxiety.

How Did We Get Here? I read the following interesting set of observations from the website http://www.letsmove.gov:

  • Thirty years ago, most people led lives that kept them at a healthy weight. Kids walked to and from school every day . . . and played for hours after school before dinner. Meals were home-cooked with reasonable portion sizes, and there was always a vegetable on the plate. Eating fast food was rare and snacking between meals was an occasional treat.
  • Today, children experience a very different lifestyle. Walks to and from school have been replaced by car and bus rides. Afternoons are now spent with TV, video games, and the Internet. Parents are busier than ever, and families eat fewer home-cooked meals. Snacking between meals is now commonplace. 
  • Portion sizes have also exploded- they are now two to five times bigger than they were in years past. Beverage portions have grown as well- in the mid-1970s, the average sugar-sweetened beverage was 13.6 ounces compared to today when children think nothing of drinking 20 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverages at a time.
  • In total, we are now eating 31 percent more calories than we were forty years ago–including 56 percent more fats and oils and 14 percent more sugars and sweeteners. The average American now eats fifteen more pounds of sugar a year than in 1970.

Those of us in independent schools especially need to address these problems so that this generation of children doesn’t fall into the health traps of chronic depression or obesity-related health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma.

Here at PS throughout each week and increasingly across the curriculum, the PE faculty and staff offer a wealth of opportunities to our students for learning about their lifelong health and wellness in an effort to counteract these cultural shifts.

Our evolving curriculum focuses on teaching our students to become responsible, healthy, and self-confident young people. The Health and Wellness Program addresses all dimensions of health, emphasizing on the importance of balance and individuality.

If we truly pride ourselves on a mission focused on “ . . . supporting and educating each child,” we must teach our students about health and wellness, reinforcing these values as critical for good living.

I encourage families to come to our first Annual Registration and Wellness Fair on May 15, which should be another great event supporting Wellness at PS.

Posted by Dr. Mark Carleton on Tuesday May, 1, 2012 at 07:58AM

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