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Highlighting innovative "outside the box" ideas, programs, research and products addressing the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Education is the Key to Addressing Childhood Obesity (Classroom 2.0)

One of my partners sent me a link to a blog written by Marion Nestle that appeared on the Huffington Post website called Fixing School Food: Out with the Junk Foods. It's a well written article that speaks to the conundrum schools face in promoting a healthy educational environment while making unhealthy food choices readily available to the student population. The article was inspired by the Institute of Medicine's report titled: Nutrition Standards for Foods In Schools. The author makes some good points on the need to reduce or eliminate unhealthy food choices in schools, but unfortunately the article does not address the need to support that process with ongoing and sustainable health education. Simply changing the "food" environment inside schools is not going to produce healthier children unless they are also provided with the education to understand the consequences associated with making unhealthy food choices. So, all of this leads me to ask - why are we not doing more about educating our young people about the benefits of making good healthy lifestyle choices?

Haven't we learned from our tobacco efforts? Changing the environment alone is not going to change a nation of addicts - especially addicts hooked on corn syrup, fast foods and a sedentary lifestyle. Today there are vast numbers of "smoke free" environments (restaurants, airlines, hotels, office buildings, etc), but smoking is still the number one cause of preventable death (obesity is number two). What's even more alarming are the statistics of adolescent smoking. According to the American Lung Association each day, nearly 6,000 children under 18 years of age start smoking; of these, nearly 2,000 will become regular smokers. That is almost 800,000 annually. So, despite the numerous well intended environmental changes that have been made to prevent or limit smokers access to their habit, it's obvious much more needs to be done.

My partners and I believe it is going to take a mixed approach of environmental change, education and treatment to effectively address the growing obesity issue in this country; but that education provides the greatest opportunity to make a long term sustainable difference. I'm not suggesting that we put environmental changes on the back burner, but rather we use education to stimulate innovative thinking and action as it relates to changing the environment. There are a plethora of organizations today that will readily provide information and resources to motivated individuals looking for information on childhood obesity, but they must truly be motivated in order to dig through all of the layers of information, links, medical journals, blogs, statistical analysis, and, well you get the picture. It's just not that easy to find well organized and useful information that can help a person become a better educated consumer and healthy lifestyle practitioner. So let's help where we can make the greatest difference - providing our future generations with the knowledge they need to make educated and well informed healthy lifestyle choices. A better educated population will positively impact the environment they live in, make healthier lifestyle choices and ultimately reduce the tremendous healthcare costs associated with the treatment of obesity and related diseases.

One of the goals my partners and I have is to use technology to create innovative and revolutionary health education experiences for elementary and middle school students (AKA - our future generation).

Using interactive content rich features built on Web 2.0 technology we are creating an online learning experience called Get Fit FOCUS that truly empowers students to actively participate in their learning experience through an evolving on-line curriculum and numerous interactive, collaborative and social networking elements. It's designed to engage and communicate with young people using mediums relevant to their changing lifestyles - and our goal is to provide this to schools at no cost. Through FOCUS, we will be able to deliver a powerful and sustainable educational experience that can be experienced and shared by all key stakeholders – students, teachers and parents.

We just went live with our development site and hope to have version 1 ready for beta testing this fall. We're collaborating with curriculum developers, classroom technology professionals and many others to insure an exceptional and relevant experience for students, teachers and parents. I’ll keep you updated on our progress, but for now here’s a sneak peak at a few early screen shots from Get Fit FOCUS. As always, your comments and/or suggestions are welcome.

In good health,

Phil Christian
LifeStyle Media Group

1 comment:

Salome said...

Among the eight components of a CSHP model are Physical Education and Family and Community Involvement. GAO studies show that the program strategy identified by experts as most important to prevent or reduce childhood obesity is "increasing physical activity," and that parental and social support for physical activity is associated with increased physical activity.

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