This editorial represents the views of the young people in The kNOw.
Lately, we’ve been talking a lot about what our neighborhoods need to be more healthy. We’ve discussed four major areas that experts have recommended for healthy communities, which include health homes for children, increased school attendance, reducing youth violence, and reversing the childhood obesity epidemic.
As youth, we think that we have power to influence all of these areas, but we’re most optimistic about reversing the rate of childhood obesity.
One reason we’re so hopeful: Our culture is in favor of healthy weight in children. No one says, “I’m ok with obese kids.” People universally agree that healthy weight in kids is important. Unlike reducing youth violence, working on obesity in kids doesn’t call for a change of culture. It requires a change of what’s available and what’s easiest. Kids will be healthy if it’s an easy option.
We think this goal is easier to regulate than others, because schools have so much power in the area of enforcing healthy diet and exercise. But we all agree that the change for kids starts at home, not at school. This requires some sacrifices from families and parents.
We know that people don’t want to be obese, but the way our communities and schools are set up, being unhealthy is easier than to be healthy. The obesity problem is directly related to a lack of healthy options. For example, if someone didn’t feel safe running in their neighborhood, they would have a harder time staying healthy than someone who didn’t have to worry about safety during exercise.
When opportunities for healthy living are easy, popular, and normal for kids (and their families), childhood obesity will be less common.