Can Recess Slow Childhood Obesity?
Your Take: An environmental education expert advocates an old-school solution for children's health.
In almost all cases evolution is a good thing. The fact that I am sitting at a desk typing is evolution -- my prehistoric ancestors found relief by banging their hands against a rock. The president's recent announcement that he has become fully evolved on the issue of marriage equality is another sign that over time, good things do indeed happen.
Conversely, the aggressive rate at which the obesity epidemic is evolving in the black community is a travesty. Recent articles, like Alice Randall's op-ed in the New York Times last week, would have you believe that black women, who are 60 times more likely to be obese than any other group, "want to be fat" and that they "love their curves" because they show their "wisdom."
The reality is no one loves diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, all of which are side effects of obesity. The very idea that black women love being fat, as Randall suggests, is not only absurd; it's dangerous.
According to the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services four out of five black women are obese -- that is nothing to love or celebrate. The causes of obesity include a variety of health and economic issues, but it is also important to note that family trends and environmental factors also play a role. According to a 2010 brief from the Center for American Progress the rate of obese and overweight Hispanic and African-American children and adolescents ages 2-19 is approaching 40 percent, while the rate among their white counterparts remains below 30 percent. Why this gap?
There is a clear correlation between the health and wellness of parents and their children. Therefore, if large numbers of adult black women are obese and they have children, the probability that their children will also be obese is extremely high. Obese children turn into obese adults. So how can we temper the alarming childhood obesity rates?