by BRENDA BORBA Staff Writer
Studies show that eliminating a mere 64 calories a day would contribute to preventing higher childhood obesity rates, and allow obesity prevention goals to be met. Decreasing caloric intake and increasing physical activity are little steps that can be taken to prevent higher obesity rates. Otherwise, the average U.S. youth would be nearly four pounds heavier than a child or teen of the same age was in 2007-2008. More than 20 percent of young people would be obese, up from 16.9 percent today. “Sixty-four calories may not sound like much individually, but it’s quite a consequential number at the population level, and children at greatest risk for obesity face an even larger barrier,” says Y. Claire Wang, assistant professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. If people want to see a true change in the high obesity rate, there needs to be great reductions and changes in health choices. Co-author of the study and senior scientist at the Robert Wood Foundation, PhD C. Tracy Orleans, says, “Reaching the 2020 goal will require significant changes to calories consumed and expended. Because we know that the children and teens who already are overweight or obese will need larger reductions, and the preventing obesity will be more effective than treating it, we must focus our attention on the policy and environmental changes likely to have early, broad, and sustainable impacts.” The 64 calorie difference between consumption and expenditure is based on an average of the population. According to sciencedaily, Dr. Wang and her colleagues note, “It is not intended to represent a change for any individual young person, and that many young people would need to see even greater reductions.” “I think that cutting calories is a horrible idea because kids shouldn’t be counting or have their calories counted….No, just cut the harmful foods to a minimum, stop giving your kids ice cream everyday and start giving them celery sticks instead! And make exercise but in a good way!” says sophomore Sophia Touri. Some steps that can be taken to prevent child obesity is replacing all sugar-sweetened beverages in school with water, and not consuming any additional sugary beverages outside of school could reduce caloric intake by 12 calories per day. Participating in physical activities could eliminate “19 calories per day among children who are 9-11 years old”. Engaging in after school activity programs for children in grades K-5 results in an additional 25 calories expended per day, according research on sciencedaily. “If there is an increase in weight gain in children, it will increase the amount of children with diabetes and even shorten their life span,” says sophomore Lauren Carroll. Even though 64 calories might not mean so much, especially to our children, it is all that needs to be done for our nation to achieve the goals set by the federal government for reducing obesity rates by 2020.