The Problem at Hand
Across the United States, childhood obesity has reached staggering levels, with the American Medical Association finding that the obesity rate for youth ages 2-19 between 2015 and 2016 to be 18.5% (DeVito et. al., 2018). Even more troubling is that students in urban public schools are found to have frequently higher levels of obesity than their suburban counterparts as Clark et. al. (2015) found in their research on 24 of St. Louis, Missouri’s urban schools. While there are many health-risks associated with inactivity and obesity, these dangers are quite preventable, in part, through the implementation of daily physical activity (Hoffman et al., 2014). Unfortunately, the students in urban areas who stand to gain the most from consistent exercise through play in their schools are also the ones who have access to it the least, as “the period allotted to recess…is less abundant among children of lower socioeconomic status and in the urban setting” (Murray and Ramstetter, 2013, p.183). A city with a reputation for being liberal, white, and health conscious, Seattle public school students have lower rates of obesity than the national average thanks, in part, to recent school-based initiatives, but the city nevertheless struggles to offer proper physical education and recess time to its students (Kern et. al., 2014). Student health, however, extends far beyond the classroom and into local communities, and grassroots organizations in King County are now advocating for improved cycling and walking infrastructure for student commutes and for access to quality exercise time during school hours. Over all, communities in the Emerald City are demonstrating that they care deeply for their children’s health and will take the time to lobby their local legislators, communicate with one another online, and rally in public to ensure that all children, not just wealthy ones, have the right to live healthy and productive lives.
Clark B. R., & Racette, S. (2015). Obesity and Aerobic Fitness among Urban Public School
Students in Elementary, Middle, and High School. PLOS One,
DeVito, N. French, L. & Goldacre, B. (2018). Trends in Obesity and Severe Obesity Prevalence in
US Youth and Adults by Sex and Age, 2007-2008 to 2015-2016. Journal of the American
Medical Association, doi:10.1001/jama.2018.3060
Hoffman, M. F., Hayes, S., & Napolitano, M. A. (2014). Urban Youth’s Experiences and
Perceptions of a Community Cycling Initiative. Urban Studies, 51(2), 300-318.
Kern, E.,, Chan, N., Fleming, D., & Krieger, J. (2014). Declines in Student Obesity Prevalence Associated with a Prevention Initiative — King County, Washington, 2012. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 63(7), 155-157.
Murray, R. & Ramstetter, C. (2013). The Crucial Role of Recess in School. American Academy of Pediatrics, 131, 183-188.
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