Are schools to blame for America's obesity? | Guest column

Obesity is quickly becoming the most health threatening issues in America. The onset of obesity and type-II diabetes are frighteningly increasing in young children and adolescents today. More than ever, teenagers are dealing with weight issues, which increase the risk for eating disorders, emotional misbehaviors and poor performance in school. The public school lunch systems: Is it a big contribution to our society's increasing obesity epidemic?

Most people are aware that school lunches do not always represent the healthiest fare; however, there are healthy choices available for students to decide on their own. While it may be said that high school lunches are unhealthy, it is the lack of nutrition education provided that teach students proper eating habits and what to eat for health. Therefore, the blame is not the unlimited allowance of candy bars, chips, and soda in the school but the lack of education given to the students.

There is a chronic neglect in health education prior to college. Eating healthy is vital for well-being and future success. The "freshman 15" is evidence to show that students are unfamiliar of what to eat once they're out on their own and every meal's principle underlies "freedom of choice." As a teenager transitions into an independent adult, this period is such an important time to practice healthy eating habits because it sets permanent eating habits for the future. Every student starting his/her years in college or any lifestyle of independence for that matter should be well educated about nutrition and health.

Personally, after experiencing my freshman year at college in a dorm setting, it was never a surprise to always find pizza boxes stacked up at the end of the hallway or the bustling of footsteps as all of my roommates left to the cafeteria for the late-night meal that opened every night at 11 p.m. In high school, I was only required to take one semester of health class and within that period, learned about nutrition for one week. One week equates to five days, which is five hours, so in the end I received a mere five hours of nutrition education out of my entire educational career before college.

People are constantly bombarded with false nutrition information or diet fads all over the Internet, news and TV. It's no wonder that people are extremely confused about the realm of nutrition and food intake. Most people, excluding myself due to my major in nutrition, do not know what a portion size looks or even how much water to drink in a day. Obesity is at a constant rise and more signs of adolescents are developing this catastrophic disease. Therefore, change must take place first and foremost, by increasing nutrition courses in the educational system of our society.

Jennifer Se Yeon Cheon is a Federal Way High School graduate (2005) with a B.S. in nutrition at Bastyr University.

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