It’s easier to establish healthy behaviors during childhood than having to change unhealthy behaviors during adulthood. Chronic conditions are becoming increasingly common among children and adolescents in the U.S. Did you know that about 1 in 4 adolescents suffers from a chronic condition such as diabetes and asthma?1
Obesity On the Rise
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The percentage of U.S. children aged 6 to 11 years who were obese increased from 7% in 1976-1980 to nearly 18% in 2011-2014. The percentage of adolescents aged 12 to 19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 21% during the same period.”1
Developed by the CDC, The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model brings together public health, education, and school health to improve health and learning. Children with chronic conditions may miss more school days which reduces their time for learning and may result in lower academic achievement. It’s important to manage these conditions effectively with the right nutrition and ample physical activity. Healthy behaviors are practices ingrained early in childhood and it’s essential that children and adolescents have a healthy school and healthy environment in order to succeed.
Schools and parents can help increase the quantity and quality of physical education and physical activity during and after school hours. Benefits of physical activity have been proven to help build muscles and healthy bones, and improve strength and endurance. Physical activity can aid in managing weight, reducing stress and increasing self-esteem – which may positively impact children’s academic performance.
Diet and Nutrition
Creating healthy eating habits early in childhood life helps set the path to a healthier adulthood. Healthy eating along with physical activity help support proper growth and development and can prevent health problems such as obesity, diabetes, etc. Teaching and including children in healthy meal preparation and cooking is a great way to reinforce healthy eating habits as well.
Focus on Prevention
Did you know that:
51% of all causes of death in the U.S. are attributable to lifestyle behaviors many of which are preventable through healthy lifestyle behaviors?2
85% of all type 2 diabetes and its side effects are preventable?2
While some life events are out of our control and cannot be prevented, it’s clear that we can prevent many of the health problems by engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviors. Schools, parents, and health care practitioners can help educate children and adolescents to make smart food choices, exercise to build strong bodies and monitor their health and any chronic conditions they may have.
Manage Chronic Conditions
To reduce school absenteeism schools, parents, and health care practitioners can help by using proven practices to better manage chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, food allergies, etc. For more information about managing chronic conditions, visit www.cdc.gov, then click on Diseases & Conditions.
- CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/healthy-schools.htm
- Mokdad AH, et.al. Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000. JAMA. 2004; 291:1238-1245