Measuring Childhood Obesity and Wellness: A Pilot Study
Dr. Roger Nemeth, Hope College
Childhood obesity has become a major health and social problem throughout America. In an effort to measure the severity of the problem for local youths, basic health and wellness data were collected on 177 students at Quincy Elementary School. In addition to measuring students’ height and weight, parents were surveyed about their child’s eating habits and level of physical activity. Students’ Body Mass Index (BMI) scores reveal that a higher percentage of Quincy students were overweight and/or obese than national averages for children of similar age and gender. The percentage of students classified as overweight or obese did not vary significantly by gender. Findings from the parent survey indicate that the amount of time local students watch TV/DVDs, play computer games, and are involved in vigorous physical activity is consistent with national averages for American children of similar ages. These findings are also consistent with findings from a 2003 study of Holland area youth. Parents report that their children eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables (the recommended daily amount) an average of only 1 to 3 days per week. Likewise, most students drink milk only once or twice a week, but consume an average of 1-2 bottles/cans of soft drinks weekly.
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