A Country-Wide Epidemic: Childhood Obesity

PRE-PROPOSAL 1. Media Artifact

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

My news article: The Effects of Obesity  2. Persona and POV statement Persona: Persona nameAge: School/occupation: Location:   Quote:   About:
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Goals:
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My Persona & POV Statement 

POV Statement:
  • User (be specific and use empathetic language, e.g., Karla, a busy and high achieving high school student…):
  • Need (identifies a need that is meaningful and includes feelings, e.g. …needs a way to feel less stress at school…):
  • 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.):

My Persona & POV Statement 

3. Potential Solutions:

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

SOLUTION 1: Have school sponsored educational focus groups within their children's respective schools that informs parents on what a healthy diet looks like for their children. In addition, to nutrition this educational opportunity can highlight the adverse affects that technology has on our children, while also offering ways to either combat or work around the usage tendencies. Parents are also afforded the ability to collaborate and share ideas that have or have not worked within their own families. 

SOLUTION 2: Melisa can download one of the various apps available through the app store that informs and helps create detailed nutritional shopping carts for her children. This creates a quick and easy way to understand what her child needs and the appropriate amounts, as well as provides her the freedom, flexibility, and convenience she needs being a working mother. 

SOLUTION 3: Lastly, parents must be diligent in signing their kids up for some type of physical activity, whether that is in the form of sports, gymnastics, summer camp, dodge ball or swimming. To help promote this schools can offer newsletters with all physical activities it offers to make it an easy process for adults to pick which to sign their child up for. In addition, communities could do a similar thing.Regardless, there is something out there that the child will like and inherently gravitate towards, but it is up to the parents to have the patience and diligence to find it. This will increase physical activity, while simultaneously decreasing one's time on technology, which would help to combat childhood obesity. 

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/(S(e0nb5nno14i1cquub2qbc0bo))/mileg.aspx?page=getobject&objectname=mcl-400-105d&query=on&highlight=obesity#1

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: 

This proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan because it is going to encourage parents to become informed, by helping them (the parents) better cope with their own daily struggles, while also providing ideas and theories on how they can encourage physical activity and properly provide a nutritious diet for their children. This will help children because a large part of behavior is modeled from those we surround ourselves with. If the parent is exhibiting good nutritional behavior the child is likely to adopt the same behavior. In addition, the seminar will help by providing tips to achieve good health that will further help to alleviate childhood obesity. This will pay dividends early on, as well as in the long-term by transcending generations and helping to instill good values that they will be able to carry into adult hood, and eventually transfer to their own children.  

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

Initially I thought of my childhood and the diet that I had. I can remember eating Poptarts, Doritos and any other candy you can think of, but luckily I was extremely active at the time, which helped to negate my poor nutrition. This really got me thinking, and caused me to do some research into the issue, and ultimately motivated me to want to create a proposal about obesity and hopefully help to create some change. 

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

I am currently volunteering at the Bryant Community Center. There I have been tutoring students, and really helping in anyway that I am able to. Unfortunately my service work is not directly related to my proposal, however it was been a great experience nevertheless. I have learned tons, gained a further appreciation for the upbringing that I was fortunate to have, and most importantly have helped others along the way. 

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

My news article: The Effects of 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: My Athletic Nutritionist

I essentially just asked her, "if you had to list out a few direct reasons as to why childhood obesity is such an epidemic in this country what would your response be?" She responded by listing three main causes: first, she mentioned that technology and our culture of convenience has changed physical activity and playtime among children for the worse. Secondly, she referenced socioeconomic status and how the disparities among households has a huge impact on educational opportunities, as well as access to nutrient dense foods. Lastly, she mentioned how she believes the bulk of the issue lands on the shoulders of the children's parents. She believes that a lot of parents lack the awareness of what their child should be consuming on a daily basis, while also neglecting the importance of physical activity in a child's routine. 

CONSULTATION 2: Athletic Trainer

For my second consultation I reached out to my sports trainer and asked him to provide his input on the main reasons that childhood obesity exist. In addition, I wanted to hear his personal take on how vital physical activity in combating this epidemic is. He responded stating that "genetics, metabolism, nutrition, exercise or lack thereof, and sleep are among some of the main causes of obesity. He also mentioned that "exercise can be very helpful, especially in today's society where you have schools cutting back on physical education programs due to budget restrictions and the increased dependence on technology. Like my first consultation my trainer also emphasized the importance of educating parents to make them more aware of their child's nutritional and physical needs. 

CONSULTATION 3: Christian, a Master's Students in Nutritional Sciences

This was probably my most impactful consultation. Christian went above and beyond and really offered some incredible insight that helped to shape my proposal. I reached out to Christian shortly after being directed to him by Stefan Santrach and essentially just asked him his views towards childhood obesity while also briefly describing my current proposal. He responded with:

(1) Parenting is incredibly hard and recognizing that is the difference between authoritarian vs compassionate policy making. I don't know if you're a parent yourself (I am not) and its impossible to actually understand how difficult it is to be a parent of a child if you aren't one yourself. It is so difficult that one cannot expect to do everything perfectly, oftentimes feeding kids is a serious point of conflict with children and therefore it is sometimes the most difficult thing to do 'correctly'. In whatever legislation you come up with, please recognize that parents aren't necessarily the problem, rather they are the solution. They are inundated with messages every day that they're bad parents and that kind of messaging environment is NOT motivating. 

(2) I believe that you should have the content focus on not telling parents how to run their kids' lives better, but how to better cope with their own. Often times kids, especially little ones, learn by modeling their parents. Working with parents to identify the barriers that keep them from using more health behaviors in their own life could be a strategy to take. Help the parents - help the kids, because most children with overweight/obesity come from families where the parents also struggle with weight. After identifying parents' behaviors, then you should focus on work shopping ideas on how parents can get their children to participate in these health behaviors. Example is: Eat one serving of fruit in the morning, parent cuts the fruit into pieces after the child washes the fruit in the sink. When parents and children work together, the behaviors they're practicing tend to stick and become habit more frequently. I suggest modeling your seminar sessions using themes from "motivational interviewing." That tool is often used in interactions between a patient and their diet practitioner and has been shown to improve adherence to behavioral change, increase patient satisfaction, and promote positive health outcomes. 

In addition to his explicit recommendations he also mentioned that he personally believes that direct nutritional intervention is not the best way to improve nutritional health. He thinks that efforts to make living less stressful while also increasing recreational time are going to be more effective (raising the minimum wage, guaranteeing paid vacation time, increasing funding for school, etc). 

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.

Throughout the semester I received a lot of feed back from Jeff Kupperman. It was incredibly helpful having detailed conversations with him because it helped to guide and streamline my Google search, while also helping me to understand what information was imperative in crafting a solid proposal. In addition to Jeff, Stefan Santrach also played a pivotal role in helping to shape my proposal. I was struggling to find a final consultation, so I decided to ask Stefan if he knew of anyone that could help make my proposal stronger. He got back to me quickly, and provided a critique along the way. He mentioned that with my two current consultations (my athletic trainer and nutritionist) that my scope was fairly narrow, and it could be very beneficial to my proposal if I were to talk to someone with a Public Health perspective. He provided me a link to a student in the School of Public health that contained an emphasis on the Nutritional Sciences. This particular critique and reference that Stefan provided me was vital in helping me to increase the scope, feasibility, and overall attractiveness of my proposal. 

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.

Throughout the semester I have talked to my Athletic trainer, as well as my nutritionist. Additionally, I recently talked to Christian, a master's student who was able to provide some very impactful insight. Aside from the conversations I have had I read a number of articles pertaining to obesity. Coming into this topic I possessed a very broad idea of the problem. I always thought the solution was simple: eat less, and eat better, but it turns out that it really is not that simple. In-fact, through my research I learned that obesity could be a result of anything from poor nutrition, bad socioeconomic status, depression, anxiety, low physical activity, too much technological screen time, and the list goes on. My thinking went from very broad and general to focused. I sat down and thought what is the solution that could potentially help to alleviate a lot of these causes of obesity. I instantly thought of the lack of education and awareness of the parents. Children often do not have the power to choose what they eat for dinner, when they eat, and what physical activities, if any they are involved in at an early age. This led me to believe that the root of the problem is not in the child’s control, but more so in the hands of their parent’s, which is why I decided to focus my proposal and legislation around educating them. After my conversation with Christian, however, I learned that parent's are not invincible and more often than not when we see children who are obese there is a pretty decent chance that the parents are also overweight. My first run through of my proposal I neglected the fact that maybe the parents are unhealthy themselves and instead of teaching them how to better provide a nutritional diet for their kids, perhaps the solution we need is one that teaches the parents how to eat better. At the end of the day behavior is modeled and passed down. If we can teach the parents how to better cope with their stresses, such as work-life balance or finances and effectively teach them how to navigate these so that they can still be nutritious, then maybe this will intangibly and subconsciously instill proper nutritional habits in their children. 

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.?

Single Proposal

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.... A recent study ran by the The New England Journal of Medicine predicted that 57.3% of today's children will be obese by the age of 35 years old. 

WHEREAS.... Nearly 1 in 3 children in Michigan, ages 10-17, are overweight or obese. 

WHEREAS.... Stanford University recently released an article that stated that "the factor that puts children at greatest risk of being overweight is having obese parents." 

(Add more "Whereas" clauses if necessary.)

Operative clauses

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

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED....

1. By mandating that the state of Michigan creates and maintains a platform that combines a website with a semi-annual webinar session, essentially creating a fully integrated solution to help combat the affects of childhood obesity. 

2. The webinar would be an educational system that would be lead by an expert in the nutritional and health field. There will be one 2-hour long session in October, followed by another one in April. These sessions will focus on the parents. It will highlight three key areas with a Q&A at the end. A brief description of each segment follows. The second 30 minute chunk will be spent on discussing techniques on how parents can create more interactive and collaborative approaches to achieve healthy living. We learned that behavior is modeled, so if the parents can become good role models, embracing a healthy diet for themselves then this will inherently be passed onto their children. In this section of the seminar we would see tactics being discussed similar to what Christian mentioned: "eat one serving of fruit in the morning, parent cuts the fruit into pieces after the child washes the fruit in the sink." By adopting techniques that have parents and children work together create more sustainable and effective habits. 

3. The first 30 minutes will be spent on basic nutritional and physical training that will emphasize small changes, such as limiting the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and reducing the time a child spends in front of a television.

4. The second 30 minute chunk will be spent on discussing techniques on how parents can create more interactive and collaborative approaches to achieve healthy living. We learned that behavior is modeled, so if the parents can become good role models, embracing a healthy diet for themselves then this will inherently be passed onto their children. In this section of the seminar we would see tactics being discussed similar to what Christian mentioned: "eat one serving of fruit in the morning, parent cuts the fruit into pieces after the child washes the fruit in the sink." By adopting techniques that have parents and children work together create more sustainable and effective habits. 

5. The third 30 minute chunk will be spent primarily on how to navigate the difficulties of being a parent while maintaining nutritious. In this segment parents can expect to gain insight on a variety of topics, such as how to eat healthy on a budget, or perhaps what to order for their child when attending the McDonald's drive through. 

6. The fourth, and final 30 minute chunk would be a live Q&A session where viewers (the parents) would be able to type in questions they may have and receive a live answer provide by the nutritionist. 

7. In addition to the webinar, the state would also launch a website that would take the shape of a community forum. This would be primarily for the parents to be able to connect with each other to share tactics or failures, discuss the webinars and even to just discuss basic motivation to help each other navigate the stresses of everyday life. This not only creates a progressive community effort, but will help the parents become better, while also helping them to provide their children with the best and healthiest life possible, which at the end of the day is the primary goal of any parent.  

(Add more "Resolved" clauses if necessary.)

Counter-arguments:

What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. Why should we prioritize holding nutritional seminars for parents and having schools fund these ventures when schools are already underfunded and students are lacking educational literacy? 

2. They are kids, they should eat whatever they want and enjoy it because eventually they are going to age and their metabolism's will slow down and that is when they should monitor what they eat. 

3. We live in a day and age where happiness is the most important feeling, so if a happy meal keeps a kid happy, so be it. 

4. I know I should be giving my kid a well balanced diet, but I just simply don't have the funds to do. Keeping a roof over our head is more important than keeping a few pounds off right? 

5. We live in a tech driven age, so why does it matter if my kid plays video games instead of being physically active. Look at Ninja, a famous video game player, he has made millions, perhaps my kid could be the next Ninja. 

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)?  

The state will utilize tax revenue in order to fund this venture. According to this article an expert nutritionist cost anywhere from $50-$100 per 1 hour session. If we take the average, which is $75x4 (the session is two hours and occurs twice a year) then the total cost per year would be $300 for the webinar. Additionally, this article suggests that a website can cost anywhere from 0-$10,000 depending on how aesthetically and efficiently the state would want it to run. Currently the state of Michigan spends approximately 25.2% of their budget to fund K-12 education. I see this money coming out of this particular area of the budget. In 2015 governmental spending was roughly $54.7 billion dollars, which means that nearly $13 billion dollars is distributed towards helping the educational system. This would account for nearly a .00001% decrease in the budget assuming the proposal would cost roughly $13,000 to create. Michigan is in a rough spot when it comes to education, therefore I foresee certain individuals objecting to this proposal, citing that with an already underfunded educational system it would be ridiculous to reduce it further. While I agree that it is underfunded, I believe this proposal can create a win win scenario. By reducing the budget by approximately $13,000 we can help adults and parents become much more nutritionally aware while simultaneously boosting children's ability to learn, According to this article a better diet can lead to three major outcomes: First, a good nutritional diet is linked with increased brain function and mental capacity. Second, "studies showed that malnutrition leads to behavior problems, and that sugar has a negative impact on child behavior." Lastly, research shows that a higher quality diet is associated with better performance in school in general and on exams. In addition, the article mentions that it improves the ability of students' to be able to stay on task and finish things until the end. For $13,000, or .00001% of the education budget not only can we help boost the nutritional understanding of Michigan, but we can also help to increase students' ability to apply themselves in school, learn better, and ultimately take a step towards achieving what they want. 

References:

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

1. https://news.stanford.edu/news/2004/july21/med-obesity-721.html

2. https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/HALF-Implementation-Guide/communicating-with-families/pages/Motivational-Interviewing.aspx

3. https://www.naturalnews.com/2017-12-01-more-than-half-of-u-s-youth-are-obese-by-age-35.html

4. https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdch/8-_The_State_of_the_State_368749_7.pdf

5. https://www.whatitcosts.com/personal-nutritionist-cost-prices/

6. https://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/building-websites/how-much-should-a-website-cost/

7. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/02/21/magazine/minimum-wage-saving-lives.html

8. https://ballotpedia.org/Michigan_state_budget_and_finances

9. https://articles.extension.org/pages/68774/3-ways-nutrition-influences-student-learning-potential-and-school-performance

10. **I had many more sources but was unaware earlier in the term that I was supposed to keep track, therefore I am unsure where exactly I got some of my insight from, but I was able to include the sources where I pulled statistics and quotes. I did not want to provide sources just because, especially if I did not actually utilize their material. 




 

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Total votes: 16

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