Combating Childhood Obesity

PRE-PROPOSAL 1. Media Artifact

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Our newsletter: Combatting Childhood Obesity 

2. Persona and POV statement Persona: Persona name: Jacob Baum Age: 12-years-old School/occupation: Seventh Grader Location: Ann Arbor, MI   Quote
“I eat as much as I can at school because nobody watches what I buy for lunch”
  About:
  • Comes from a low SES family who has no background on nutrition

  • Is an only sibling and spends most of his time home alone while his parents work late hours

  • Has a pretty sedentary lifestyle: this includes doing homework and playing video games

Goals:
  • Improve his relationships with his peers

  • Feel better about himself, mentally and physically

  • Be able to run the mile in gym class by the end of the school year

POV Statement:
  • User (be specific and use empathetic language, e.g., Karla, a busy and high achieving high school student…): Jacob, a sedentary, depressed 12-year-old
  • Need (identifies a need that is meaningful and includes feelings, e.g. …needs a way to feel less stress at school…):  needs guidance to a healthier lifestyle so he can look and feel better
  • Insight (incorporates your observations; often unexpected, …because there is a lot of chaos in her life and she wants to feel more calm, peace, and mindfulness in her day.): because he is self-conscious and has issues navigating relationships with his peers
 

 

3. Potential Solutions:

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1: All physical education classes will be split two encompass half of a curiculuum on nutrition and the other half on physical activity to teach a balance for life.

SOLUTION 2: Require all schools to take a day out of their yearly school calendar to educate students and families on the implications of poor nutrition and low amounts of physical activity at school and home.

SOLUTION 3: Train teachers to create a new course that solely dedicates itself to educating students K-12 on the value of living a nutrition rich life and ways to live that are healthy.

 

BACKGROUND AND RESEARCH PROCESS Context

Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2017-2018/billintroduced/House/pdf/2018-HIB-5524.pdf

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2017-2018/billintroduced/House/pdf/2018-HIB-5966.pdf

These two bills above are related to mental health programming provided for teachers and students in schools, and we would like to use these as a basis of implementing the same sort of programming, but instead for nutritional value to combat childhood obesity, as suggestion from Michael during our consultation.

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

Educating our students on the necessity of living a healthy lifestyle will not only encourage an immediate change, but it will have a lasting impact on all students of all ages across Michigan as well. All children have the privilege of obtaining an education as mandated by state law, but it is what is being taught that we need to hone in on in order to ensure that students are getting the most out of their education. Education on nutrition is a necessary life lesson in that bad habits start young, and many parents do not have the means (financially, emotionally, and cognitively) to provide the education on a healthy lifestyle for their children. By working with the government to obtain a grant that will allow all students to obtain some sort of education integrated into their already dense course load during grades K-12, we are setting them up to succeed. As it is right now we are preparing them for failure without providing them with the necessary knowledge, understanding, and skills to lead a healthy life.

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

After volunteering in a preschool for the fall and winter semesters of our sophomore years, we noticed the poor eating habits that students were already forming as they brought large amounts of junk food to class each day. It was clear that some of these children display poorer habits than others, but the curriculum was not doing anything to correct these poor habits from continuing. Furthermore, we reminisced on our own schooling days, and recalled many of our classmates poor eating choices that lead to them suffering from poor lifestyle now in college, that could in the end lead to obese lifestyles in adulthood. Evidently, if they learned how to combat these habits earlier in their schooling days and learned how to better their eating/exercise lifestyles, the hope is that they would not be submissive to obesity now.

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

Both of us were able to volunteer at Food Gatherers in Ann Arbor. This experience helped us learn about the food industry. From volunteering at canned food drives, it has taught us a lot about the importance of health and nutrition. Many canned foods are high in carbohydrates and fats. Just because canned foods last longer, families from low SES are more likely to buy these since they won’t expire and go to waste. Instead, we should encourage students to pick healthier produce, even if it is canned. It is the schools responsibility to teach our future generation good nutrition habits. If the school doesn’t do this, many children who aren’t getting the resources to learn about nutrition will become overweight or obese.

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Our newsletter: combatting childhood obesity 

Consultations

Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).

CONSULTATION 1:

Dr. Spencer A. Holover, Bariatric Surgeon at New York Bariatric Group

Alexa interviewed Dr. Holover to ask him his opinions on the rising rates of obesity. He emphasized the importance of early interventions in schools as this would not only benefit the students, but their parents as well in that students would be able to bring new skills home. The earlier the intervention, the more we can prevent obesity rates from rising. In addition, he continued to discuss some consequences of obesity such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and more. As a doctor, these were clearly his largest concerns because he was viewing these implications on a grander scheme, while we were trying to assess these consequences on a smaller level starting with educating students on health and fitness skills. Lastly, we asked him how he thinks the state of Michigan can address this issue and he said they should implement education problems. While doing that, he suggested the state should also enforce insurance companies to cover all weight loss methods such as: nutritionists, psychological assistance, and even surgery. Although some may view these to be extreme, we were able to obtain a good amount of broader information from the conversation with Dr. Holover on the consequences of a lack of education in this field.

CONSULTATION 2:

Mrs. Lydia Marcucci, First Grade Teacher at Robert Seaman Elementary Jericho, NY

Lindsey had a recent phone interview with first grade teacher Lydia Marcucci who was in fact her’s and Alexa’s teacher fourteen years ago. She has been in the education world for over 30 years, and has a passion not only for encouraging the knowledge of her students, but also ensuring their health and safety. We thought she would be an interesting person to reach out to because of her investment in her students, even when they are well beyond the age in which she taught them. Marcucci discussed how she tries to implement what she calls “mini lessons” on the importance of nutrition by integrating it into other required curriculum. Lindsey continued to ask her the ways in which she wishes schools could reform their requirements in that nutrition was incorporated into the classroom on a more official level, and ended up brainstorming the idea together. Marcucci agreed with the notion that combining physical education with nutritional education could be an amazing way to help her students understand these implications. She told us how her students already obtain physical education twice a week in 40-minute increments, and also have recess each day after lunch in which students have the opportunity to run around in a “free play” for approximately 20 minutes. Marcucci denotes these activities as “mindless” in that she recognizes the importance of taking a break from typical academic rigor to clear the mind, while also getting some sort of physical activity into their days. When asking why she noted this as important, she said that providing students with P.E. and recess has many social and emotional benefits, so that they are less fidgety and have a greater ability to focus. She also discussed how she strives to incorporate subtle hints of nutritional education in subjects such as math and literature, just so she knows she is doing her best to expose her students to this education.

CONSULTATION 3:

Melissa Simon, Certified Nutritionist by the Institution of Integrative Nutrition

Melissa is a nutritionist that we spoke to regarding the implications of childhood obesity, and how this has the ability to manifest into deeper mental health. After reading over much research, she insisted that fiber is at the root of the problem. Children aren’t receiving the fiber they should be. With the high starchy and fatty foods in cafeterias, schools are only contributing to the problem of childhood obesity rather than trying to help it. Obesity can lead to mental effects including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. If we address the issue of obesity, it will lower rates of mental health issues among children and adolescents.

CONSULTATION 4:

Michelle Paris, Teacher at the Jewish Community Center in Ann Arbor

Michelle Paris works in a classroom filled with 4-year-olds in a local Ann Arbor Preschool. When we asked Michelle how often they teach nutrition in the classroom, she explained how they do fruit and vegetables of the month. Everytime a student brings in either the fruit or vegetable of the month, they give them a gold star. The students with the most gold stars by the end of the month get a prize. These include line leader or option to pick their “center” for play first. After I asked her if she thinks the preschool should extend their nutrition curriculum in the kids every day lives? She said if we had the time I would say yes, but there are so many other lessons we need to cover to prepare the kids for kindergarten.

Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.

After meeting with Michael, we had a lot to consider about legislations that had been taken into account before but not passed over the years. To start, he gave us a lot of pointers on how to consider the counter argument of this proposal, as well as the push back of legislation that has not been pursued in the past. For example, he discussed how implementing an entire curriculum dedicated to nutrition might not be feasible with time and funding. This caused us to consider the financing for such programs, as well as the resistance of teachers, superintendents, etc. who are extremely against changing their curriculums. One push back could be that schools curriculum’s have been set in stone for such a long time being reasons for why state legislature may be uninterested in passing something that changes the way that things have been done for so long.

In addition, we took into account our TC responses on the caucus website. These were useful to help us clarify our points made. For example, Austin Gould told us in the beginning after our media artifact that we need to focus more on the state of Michigan and the youths specifically. This helped us because we were able to search previous bills in the state and focus our solution on schools to direct it towards our youth. Also Max Youtie another TC in the class helped us a lot by walking through each of our three solutions and telling us where to improve on them. This helped us be more specific about our goals and what we wanted to achieve.

Research process:

Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit.  In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.

This topic of childhood obesity hits close to home for both of us.We both attended public school together in New York and watched our peers during their elementary school years, eat whatever was available for hot lunch. As we got older we learned the importance of nutrition from our parents and doctors while some of our peers didn’t have access to the same resources as us. We realized how this issue not only persists in our small town in New York but also in Michigan schools.

When we first came up with the idea we immediately thought about the concept of schools implementing a course to teach nutrition and health. Without thinking about feasibility and funding we brainstormed many ideas for this course such as different months dedicated to different topics in nutrition. For instance, these would include exercise, eating, learning to read nutrition labels, and more.  

After some research, our meeting with Michael, and the consultations with individuals in the business we decided that this is probably too big of a stretch to implement an entire curriculum just dedicated to nutrition. After meeting with Dr. Holver, we got inspired by the idea to integrate nutrition into a course schools already had. We figured health and fitness would replace Physical Education so that nutrition and fitness are both incorporated. Dr. Holver insisted that schools have early intervention to make sure obesity rates in the US stop rising. He also mentioned that it is the school’s job to teach children from all different backgrounds and SES proper nutrition techniques to live a healthy lifestyle.

After a long discussion, we agreed that our best bet would be to integrate nutrition into physical education and call it health and fitness. We were deciding between health and physical education and figured it made more sense to put fitness and nutrition together rather than sex education and nutrition together.

Author contributions:

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?

Lindsey- had phone calls with Lydia Marcucci and Melissa Simon, researched the possible implications of childhood obesity, researched past bills passed in Michigan that helped us come up with our plausible solutions

Alexa- consulted with Dr. Holover and Michelle Paris, discovered ways of funding this program, researched the background information of childhood obesity sparking our interest in the subject

Together- Lindsey and Alexa worked on all majority of the proposal together. There was never a time when we didn’t communicate about what we want to write for each section of the proposal. When we worked on it independently, we would be facetiming and making suggestions on a GoogleDoc, so that neither individual was out of the loop.

FORMAL PROPOSAL

The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Preambulatory clauses

These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.

WHEREAS….Approximately 20% (13.7 million) children and adolescents in the United States are currently obese, putting them at risk for severe health problems in the future.

WHEREAS….Only 31.0% of adolescents were required to attend daily physical education classes throughout their school weeks nationwide

WHEREAS….Only 16.8% always offered fruits or non-fried vegetables in vending machines and school stores, canteens, or snack bars, and during celebrations whenever foods and beverages were provided to students

WHEREAS.... Parents dont have the proper knowledge on nutrition to educate their children, as many poor habits stem from the home

WHEREAS....Schools don’t have the time, funding or resources for teachers to incorporate nutrition into their curriculum

Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).

1. Requires that all physical education teachers be educated in the field of physical health and certified to teach nutrition. This would ensure that physical education teachers not only discuss fitness in their classes but also nutrition alongside it. P.E. would include physical/fitness knowledge, but also information about reading nutrition labels, healthy eating and exercise habits, and skills to bring into their homes to ensure families are also healthy.

2. Implement curriculum standards to ensure that all students are obtaining knowledge regarding nutrition strategies and other health skills during half of their P.E. class time in that this course will now incorporate both physical activity and nutritional education. Course guidelines for nutrition must include teachings about The Food Plate/Pyramid, how to properly read nutrition labels on food products, body image, and information about how to incorporate a balanced diet into their lives.

3. Change the name of this course from “Physical Education” to “Health and Fitness” so that students and teachers understand the new targeted focus of this class period. Originally, the course entitled “Health” within the school systems has an immediate connotation with sex education; however, entitling this new course “Health and Fitness” will allow students to be clear on the goals of the course which would be to provide students with the skills needed to progress onto a healthy life.

4. Require all schools follow specific guidelines when providing schools for students that are up to the code of standards specified by the USDA Food and Nutrition Services.

Counter-arguments:

1. Many argue that schools do not have the authority to make these decisions for students, and that parents should be able to make decisions for their children regarding what they should and should not eat.

2. Teachers may not have the time or means to become certified to teach this course, and requiring them to take the time out of their days is unjust.

3. Taking time out of the school day to teach nutrition in the new Health and Fitness course could be viewed as taking away from other “more necessary” academics. If the school does not already have P.E. integrated into their schedule, then they will have to shorten other classes to accommodate this.

Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  

Our proposal cost is direct lost in tax revenue. Since schools are not providing Physical Education teachers the tools to educate their students all about nutrition, the government is going to have to provide the money necessary to get these resources to all public schools. The schools with a larger population of students are more likely to have more physical education teachers and will therefore need more money to implement this program. We will create a larger fund for the government dedicated for this program, so that they can pay schools to get their teachers to sit through online courses about nutrition. We proposed online courses because they will be less expensive and easier to access by the faculty. Since we are advocating for the government to just issue more money to schools, this nationally funded program would be coming from people’s taxes. Not only would there be a direct lost in tax revenue for the state, but also for local governments. This is because depending on the school, if the school is bigger than other ones in the state, they will need more money to spend on the implementation of the program.

In addition, if the government is hesitant to implementing this in all schools in the state of michigan immediately, they can launch a 3 year pilot program. This way they can still see the effects in a few schools and how significant they are before implementing it in all schools across Michigan. This will save the government a lot of money, time and effort if they do decide to launch this pilot program.

References:

These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.

https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html

https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/stateprograms/fundedstates/pdf/Michigan-State-Profile.pdf

https://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/tools-schools-focusing-smart-snacks

https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/lowincome.html

https://healthyeatingresearch.org/research/preventing-obesity-among-preschool-children-how-can-child-care-settings-promote-healthy-eating-and-physical-activity-a-research-synthesis/ 

 
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Total votes: 15