Childhood obesity is a known problem for many developed countries in the world. In the United States of America, the significance of this problem is very high as according to the facts and statistics regarding childhood obesity presented by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, at least one of every five children of school age (six to nineteen) is affected by excessive weight or obesity (CDC, 2017). Childhood obesity is known to be caused by unhealthy lifestyle and diet choices such as the daily intake of foods high in sugar and fat and the lack of a sufficient amount of physical exercise to burn all the calories received with food (Sahoo et al., 2015).
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Since children spend a great percentage of their time in schools and also have meals there, it is known that about 50% of the overall number of calories children receive daily is consumed at schools (Black, 2016). Moreover, in comparison to the data of the 1970s, the rate of childhood obesity in the United States has seen a massive growth having leaped from only 4% registered four decades ago to as many as 19% at the beginning of the 2000s (“Childhood obesity and school lunches,” 2017).
Moreover, it has been more than a decade since the latter statistics were presented, which means that the reported percentage could have grown even more by now. CDC (2017) links childhood obesity to a wide range of problems of physical, emotional, and social nature. For instance, obese children are at an increased risk of developing chronic conditions (such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and problems with bones and joints among others), they are bullied and isolated at schools and thus are exposed to anxiety and depression, and they are at risk of growing into adults suffering from obesity which is associated with an even longer list of serious health risks (CDC, 2017).
It goes without saying that the existing problem is very serious as it affects the health and well-being of the future generation. In that way, the reduction of fats and sugar in the meals served at schools is seen as one of the most effective measures aimed at the minimization of the prevalence of childhood obesity. However, it is unknown how such solutions could be perceived by students and their parents. The purpose of the proposed study is to evaluate the attitudes of children and their parents to the schools’ strategy designed to cut the amount of sugary and fatty food served and accessed in schools, as well as their potential responses to this change.
The proposed research will be designed for the purpose of assessing the reaction of the schools, parents, and students to the changes in school lunches. These reactions could turn out to be both positive and negative. In that way, the research questions of the proposed study are the following:
1. What are the attitudes of school children and their parents to the schools’ decision to cut sugar and fat in the school meals of the students?
2. What responses can be observed from the side of children and their parents to the restricted access to sugary and fatty foods in schools and their replacement with healthier foods?
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Many schools in the US rely on high sugar and fat foods as meals for the students – they may include fast food and soda drinks as major parts of their school menus, install vending machines selling unhealthy foods, and use sweet and fatty candy bars as treats. A sudden change cutting most of these foods may be embraced by some of the stakeholders (such as children, their parents, and schools in general) by rejected by others. As a result, the research hypotheses for the proposed study are the following:
Null hypothesis – regardless of the initiative cutting the number of unhealthy foods served at schools, will intend to make up for the sweets and soda they would be missing using other sources of food such as la carte menus, vending machines, and lunches brought from home.
Research hypothesis – the initiative cutting the number of unhealthy foods served at schools will be embraced by the stakeholders without any attempts to make up for the missing goods with other harmful products served or eaten at schools.
When it comes to the variables used in the proposed study, there will be dependent and independent ones. In particular, the dependent variable in this particular research will be represented by the attitudes and behaviors of the stakeholders (schools, parents, and students) to the reduced amount of fatty and sugary foods in the school meals. This variable will be measured with the help of the independent variable – the changed school diet. Operationalization of these variables will involve the independent one (the change in a school diet) as a necessary condition – for that, specific schools implementing such change will be selected for the study. Under the aforementioned condition, the researchers will measure the dependent variable – the stakeholders’ responses and attitudes to the change.
Black, J. D. (2016). Healthy school lunches can reduce childhood obesity and diabetes.
CDC. (2017). Childhood obesity facts.
Childhood obesity and school lunches. (2017).
Sahoo, K., Sahoo, B., Choudry, A. K., Sofi, N., Kumar, R., & Bhadoria, A. (2015). Childhood obesity: Causes and consequences. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, 4(2), 187–192.