We need to act for the sake of the children

Posted: Sunday, August 13, 2006

Act now. The National Institute of Health projects that our next generation of children will be the first in the history of the United States whose life expectancy is shorter than their parents due to the effects of obesity and related health consequences.

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Evidence continues to show that children are overfed, undernourished and increasingly inactive. These behaviors lead to an increased risk of obesity as an adult, resulting in cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, orthopedic disorders, type two diabetes and psychosocial disorders. Schools can play an important role in reversing this trend by offering healthy food options, encouraging physical activity and requiring physical and health education.

The Juneau School District is leading the fight against one of the biggest challenges of our youth today. The Juneau School District Wellness Policy was adopted by the School Board in mid-June. Superintendent Peggy Cowan is requesting comments to the revised rules and regulations. To find these, go to the Juneau School District Web site, click on Auke Bay, then on "NEW - DRAFT JSD NUTRITION POLICY" in the left-hand column.

Comments on the nutrition and physical activity rules and regulations will be accepted through Monday. E-mail Superintendent Cowan at the school district. These rules and regulations will be finalized and adopted at the Tuesday School Board meeting.

More than nine million children and adolescents are considered overweight, which is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, we cannot dismiss these grave statistics, because 60 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese. In Alaska, 63 percent of adults are either overweight or obese.

So if you want to reverse this trend of our youth having shorter life expectancies than their parents, act now.

Judy O. Neary

American Heart Association/American Stroke Association

Juneau



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