Kids in communities near our college find ways to shape up
Washington Heights has the most obese children, according to the Fitnessgram assessment conducted by the Department of Education’s (DOE). Earlier this year, it revealed that 47 percent of public school students are overweight or obese, according to the DOE Fitnessgram assessment program.
The Fitnessgram program categorizes fitness levels using a zone system. The two primary zones are “Healthy Fitness Zone” and “Needs Improvement.” Experts took factors such as age and gender into consideration for the assessment standards.
For over ten years, NYC has put programs, initiatives, and policies into place to combat obesity. In addition to Move To Improve, policies such as Calorie Counts, which requires all chain restaurants to list the calorie counts on the menu and menu boards, have been put into place. Green Cart, Healthy Bucks, and Urban Cycling are other NYC programs put in place by the New York City Obesity Task Force.
Many local parents aren’t shocked by the news. A lack of physical education classes and exercise equipment uptown contribute to the problem. And so does unhealthy food. “Public school food is nasty,” says Narissa Fernandez, a parent. “The soggy beans they serve our kids can’t be considered veggies. All the nutrition is gone.”
Tamara Jackson agrees that the healthy food option on the lunch tray is scarce. “When they give me salad, it’s like two leaves of lettuce,” she says.
Even communities where McDonald’s outnumbers Whole Foods can make a difference. It starts at the top: First Lady, Michelle Obama developed a program called “Let’s Move” to provide a solution for childhood obesity. Let’s Move seeks to increase opportunities to engage in physical activity as a family, school, and community. Events like The Fall White House Kitchen Garden Harvest and the Kids’ State Dinner provide opportunities for children to get excited about healthy eating.
Locally, the New York would like help kids stay healthy and in shape. Move To Improve is a classroom based physical activity program designed by the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to increase physical activity among students, K-5, in elementary school. The New York City Obesity Task Force developed Move To Improve to improve nutrition and expand physical activity for all New Yorkers. Watch this fun video about the program.
Julie Ramos ,a public school student [where; what grade?] , says that her school is making a positive effort to keep them moving. “Our teacher does Move To Improve stuff,” says Julie Ramos, 10. “By the end of it, I could really feel like I exercised.”
The DOE has been making strides to implement more physical activity in our public schools, but Washington Heights has remained in high ranks of obesity for four years. Angel Silva, a Washington Heights resident, believes the school isn’t the one to blame for nutrition and poor food options.
“I know a lot of overweight children in this neighborhood,” said Silva. “I wouldn’t blame the school. As a culture, we eat a lot fatty stuff and we don’t do portion sizes.”
I honestly don’t know. I didn’t ask.