JUNE 2003

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“Epidemic” of Fat Children
From Hoy
May 27, 2003

By Maxy Sosa

The youth population of New York occupies first place on the list of obesity on a national level, and this ‘distinction’ is producing bitterness among many politicians.

Some medical investigators assure that the situation is so critical, it gets to have “epidemic” status, generating great expenses in health insurance, already paid for by the families of the children, or by Medicare or Medicaid.

The finger is being pointed at public schools where, according to the Assemblyman for Brooklyn Félix Ortiz, “students are not being provided with the nutritional education necessary to live a healthy life, physical education programs are not being implemented with due frequency, and students are allowed to use vending machines which sell foods lacking in nutritious value.”

This past March the State Assembly approved a project proposed by Ortiz that looks to “amend the public law on the prevention of infantile obesity” and that “will include media campaigns to promote health, which will be directed at children, adolescents, parents of families, and those who work in childcare.”

The solution to the problem, according to those who have dedicated themselves in the field, could add to the number of hours that schools dedicate to the physical fitness of the students. It is for this that legislators advise that children participate more in games like basketball, volleyball and baseball, in addition to spending more time swimming and running.

What are the benefits of so much exercise? Improving the academic performance of the children, and eliminating or reducing the possibility of suffering from obesity, stresses Ortiz in the legislative document.

Assemblyman Ortiz’ law proposes daily exercise programs for students until the eighth grade, simultaneously giving students “a healthy mind in a healthy body that increases self-esteem.”

If all the previous information does not convince on the necessity of children to exercise and watch what they eat, one should know that medical researchers assure that obese children are prone to suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes and heart problems when they grow up.

“Our schools are places where children should learn to live a healthy life, free of junk food,” emphasizes Assemblyman Félix Ortiz in a press release on the topic.

Translated from Spanish by Charlotte Triggs


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