Exercising and eating healthy are crucial factors to one’s health. However, not everyone can apply these factors to their life. Variables that have an adverse effect for these factors are present in low-income or crime-stricken areas. These living locations makes the achievable factors harder to accomplish. To prevent such an effect, there needs to be a plan for children growing up in these types of conditions. Especially in the Chicago-land area, there are a lot of crime in various locations of the city, as well as, a broad spectrum of people living in poverty. It is important to educate children in this area on how to remain healthy with the unfortunate situation they are given.
Coughenour stated that ‘Despite the vast knowledge on the importance of physical activity and proper nutrition, poor diet and inactivity remain the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States, responsible for about 400,000 deaths per year,’ (2016). Fortunately, this problem is preventable, which is why children need to be educated and taught how to live a healthy lifestyle to better their holistic health. The problems these children face is due to their families’ financial income being inadequate to provide them with nutritious food to maintain a healthy diet. Another factor that can prevent their betterment is their location. The children live in a dangerous part of town, making it harder for them to go out of the house to get fresh air and daily recommended exercise.
The Healthy People primary objective is to ‘Promote quality of life, healthy development, and healthy behaviors across all life stages,” (Healthy People, 2016). Teaching these children while they are young is vital. To maintain a healthy lifestyle for the long term, these habits need to be instilled at a young age and progressing, as they get older. It is said that, ‘Americans are encouraged to consume 1 to 2 cups of fruit per day and 1 to 3 cups of vegetables per day.” Given that the fructose is sweet enough for kids to eat, this diet is easy enough to make it into a daily goal that children can follow. Statistically, ‘about 75% of U.S. students do not consume 5 or more cups of fruits and vegetables per day, and about 60% of children ages 6-11 years do not obtain the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day,’ (Eisenmann, 2015). There is a lot of room to improve in this area and the statistic will not change unless the necessary steps are taken to increase the awareness of healthy eating and effective exercise.
A program called Project FIT is set in place to help children eat healthier and even obtain healthier foods at home. The major components of this program are to ‘increase access to safe and affordable physical activity and nutrition education opportunities in schools and surrounding neighborhoods,” (Eisenmann, 2011) which can be achieved by becoming knowledgeable in what must be done and sustaining self-efficacy and attitudes regarding nutrition and physical activity within schools, households, and neighborhoods. By doing so, healthy values are promoted and beneficently impact the culture of the schools and neighborhoods. This being said, both are responsible for the children’s holistic health to be set a priority. The school staff is trained in nutrition, providing insight and enforcing that the children’s nutritional needs are being accommodated to. Along with the nutritional needs and demands, the school is also required that the students get at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity per day. Within the neighborhood, ‘Fit Stores’ were created, which are relatively similar to healthy corner stores. They also restructured and enhanced many of the neighborhood parks to make them safer and more welcoming to the children and families. The results of the Fit Program were that the children in the ‘Fit’ schools were putting in more effort than the “regular” schools. Overall, they were getting more exercise than before, and also putting in further effort to eat more fruits and vegetables. If these patterns continue in the right direction there would surely be a drop in the obesity rate in children.
Schools need some kind of structure regarding what the students are eating. “Among 12 to 17-year-olds, overweight and obesity rates have more than doubled in the past 25 years,” (Schifferdecker, 2015). This study shows that a lot of planning is important to make parents aware. During a time of adolescence, parents/guardians need to have an insight with their kid’s eating habits. Menus should be made, the ingredients used should be limited, and fatty foods should be avoided. A healthy diet will increase the children’s energy, causing a more naturally active lifestyle at a young age. A healthy diet is the foundation for many good things to follow in the future.
To promote a healthy lifestyle, the initial start is to have and maintain a healthy diet. It is important that parents are informed of how to obtain healthy foods at a reasonable cost for their families. Usually there are farmers markets in areas that have a myriad of healthy foods and more often, they are obtainable at a cheaper cost than grocery stores. On top of cost efficiently shopping, it would also prove to be beneficial to make a grocery list and sticking to it. By knowing what is needed in the house prior to shopping will help prevent buying unneeded items, as well as, reduce food waste. In schools, there should be a planned-out menu of healthy options, since not every child is going to want to eat the same thing. Giving healthy options to children makes them more inclined to eat, since they think they are in control. Also, encouragement is beneficial to get them to eat their recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Finally, comes the exercise. When the children are eating healthy, they will feel healthier as well. More energy will be available in school to participate in class and after school activities. Physical Education classes are very important as well. Between physical education class and recess, each child should grasp some insight on health promotion and reach their recommended 30 minutes of daily activity.
To conclude, in order to prevent and promote health in areas of crime and lower poverty, there must be priority steps taken of educating both the parents and the children, knowing where to obtain healthier foods and what the meaning of a balanced diet is. After consistently maintaining a healthy lifestyle, children will get in the habit of eating healthy and will grow to enjoy eating healthy. A healthy lifestyle means a healthy diet and healthy activity; having a well-balanced diet will promote that healthy lifestyle. All of these steps together will lead to healthier children and a lower obesity rate, and hopefully healthier parents as well.
- Coughenour, C., & Burns, M. S. (2016). Community Design Impacts on Health Habits in Low-income Southern Nevadans. Am J Hlth Behav American Journal of Health Behavior, 40(4), 534-544. doi:10.5993/ajhb.40.4.15
- Eisenmann, J. C., Alaimo, K., Pfeiffer, K., Paek, H., Carlson, J. J., Hayes, H., . . . Holmes, D. (2015). Project FIT: Rationale, design and baseline characteristics of a school- and community-based intervention to address physical activity and healthy eating among low-income elementary school children. BMC Public Health, 11(1). doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-607
- Healthy People 2020. (2014). Retrieved April 6, 2019, from https://www.healthypeople.gov/
- Schifferdecker, K. E., Adachi-Mejia, A. M., Butcher, R. L., Oconnor, S., Li, Z., & Bazos, D. A. (2015, March 27). Translation of an Action Learning Collaborative Model Into a Community-Based Intervention to Promote Physical Activity and Healthy Eating. Health Promotion Practice, 17(1), 70-79. doi:10.1177/1524839915601371