Fighting Childhood Obesity, 12,000 Steps at a Time.
In California, nearly one in every three children is overweight or obese. Another 40 percent are considered unfit. In the Los Angeles Unified School District--the second largest school district in the nation--over 50 percent of students are considered overweight. Tellingly, 80 percent of LAUSD students live in poverty, a condition that is often indicative to unhealthy eating habits.
While many students living in Los Angeles are already at an economic disadvantage when it comes to their access to nutritious food they, simultaneously, aren’t getting enough physical activity. In 2012, a Canadian-led study found that children should take roughly 12,000 steps a day in order to maintain healthy levels of activity. Yet Americans continue to take an average of just 5,117 steps a day.
Poor nutrition in vulnerable, low-income communities coupled the relatively sedentary lifestyles across the U.S., have led experts to deem L.A. to be suffering from a childhood obesity epidemic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children in the past 30 years. The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. And obesity is much more serious than physical, outward symptoms. The implications of childhood obesity can be astringent, long lasting and amplify with time.
Children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are at a much greater risk for developing adult health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke and hypertension.
And beyond the obvious physical consequences of poor nutrition, childhood diets can have major effects on a child’s day-to-day life. A child’s school day begins with their first meal. When that meal isn’t sufficient, or lacks the necessary nutrition to jump-start their day, a child will be sluggish, unable to focus and distracted. Over the course of a year, grades may slip, and over the course of their education, these children will be more susceptible to losing interest altogether.
Childhood obesity is an epidemic that impacts not only the children who suffer from the disease, but also the foundation of our nation. When children aren’t healthy, our families and communities aren’t healthy.
Because obesity is the result of a “caloric imbalance”—too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed—Cooking With Gabby knows that to eliminate childhood obesity, we must tackle both. It is our holistic approach—introducing students to healthy food alternatives as well as an active lifestyle—that will create real, systemic change throughout Los Angeles.