Let's Use Our Role In Sports to Improve Childhood Nutrition
While there are many ways I could apply my degree to improve the lives of fellow Texans, child nutrition is an issue that I specifically would like to help fix. Across the world there are children that are malnourished or obese. It seems that in current society, children worldwide are struggling to find a healthy balance because of lack of education, resources, or assistance. As an athlete, I should be using my position in my school and community to help others.
Malnutrition may seem like something that only takes place in faraway third world countries, but in reality, it hits close to home. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 49 million people in the United States live in households struggling to find enough food to eat. While 15.9% of Americans live in food-insecure households, 21.6% of children have uncertain access to food. Too many people are uninformed about starvation rates in their own town and state. The first step in ending child nutrition issues is simply making the issues more known. Students should be required to take a class that focuses on the issues of child development and goes into details on eating habits and trends that are taking place locally and internationally, so that we become more aware of the issues. Ethically, leaders in the sports industry should feel compelled to assist with the education of young Americans to improve the overall well-being of our country.
Childhood obesity is another issue related to the gaps in childhood nutrition. An easy step that could be implemented to make a big difference in children’s lives would be to start talking about over eating and lack of exercise at a younger age. In elementary school, the students should learn about portion sizes and consequences that will follow if unhealthy eating and lack of body movement takes place. Texas ranks sixth among states in percentage of children that are clinically obese. While Texas has three senate bills that have been passed over the course of six years, not enough states or countries are taking action. Five states with the highest food-insecurity among children — Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, and North Carolina — have obesity rates above the national rate of 27.1%. In schools, many students that struggle to find food at home depend on school sponsored meals. The meals are given to them at a discounted price, but are not as nutritious as they could be.
If I could improve childhood nutrition, I would merely start by making the issues that go along with it more known and relevant, so that people are able to relate and realize how important the issue is. Collegiate and professional sports teams are a great avenue to raise awareness. Leaders in the fitness industry should feel compelled to encourage students in the classroom and on the playground – and engage leaders in the community. Once it becomes recognized as a serious problem, the topic will get more attention which will allow it to be easily heard by officials that have the power to make changes in school, the state, country, and across the world.