Healthcare

Proposal on providing healthier lunches to address obesity in school age children

This research proposal is aimed at investigating the extent to which the provision for healthy lunches by schools affects the rates of obesity among the learners. The study will be conducted on the state of Michigan, USA.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

It’s with great concern that the world at large has noted the ever increasing rates of obesity especially as young children develop into adolescents.  In a recent study that was published in the American Heart Journal, 1,000 students in six grade were observed in terms of their eating habits. The study was conducted in a number of schools in southern Michigan. The results from the research was able to determine that those students who ate lunch at school were  nearly 29% more vulnerable to obese than those who did not ate the school lunch. This is in contrast to the 19% risk of obese by watching TV or playing video games either two or more hours a day. That was astonishing. This therefore means that the lunch children eat at school is of far much importance in their well-being (Jordan, 2008). Another thing we should not forget is that the administrators themselves are highly challenged by the choices the students make in terms of what they will prefer for lunch thus we should not prosecute them hurriedly. What they might want to give to the children might be very different to what the children want to eat e.g. pizza tater tots and hot dogs. Nevertheless, there is call for an urgent legislation that will curb or at least minimize this risk of obesity among school age children (Kiess &Wabitsch, 2004). Did you know that over 11% of children in the U.S become overweight while in kindergarten and 17% become overweight by the time they reach third grade? Unfortunately, the national school lunch program was the one which was highly associated with increased obesity among children in school. The U.S Department of Agriculture has in a couple of times tried to make an audited of various schools to  see if they are complying with the  federal guidelines with regards to lunches in schools but they have found that the administrators do not actually follow the set guidelines. The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service dietitians found out that about 35% of the schools did not give the students low-fat lunches I.e. they gave then high-fat lunches. Additionally, sodas and ice cream sandwiches also contributed to the increase in obesity rates (Schumacher & Queen, 2007). These items were found in the food cafeterias that served as income generator to the schools. The school administrator’s plea is for Congress to help in a much more way. The current legislation for the provision breakfast and lunches to school is set to expire soon and the Senate has already passed another version of the law that has increased the funding for meals by six cents per meal. The First Lady Michelle Obama has also been in the front line in the attempt to improve school lunches. Evidently, there have been three major challenges to healthy lunches in schools. The first one is that the students themselves prefer unhealthier lunches to healthier ones (Main, n.d). The second one is that the school administrations are reluctant in implementing the set laws on meals. Last but not least, the funds that the federal government has set aside for the provision of meals to the students are inadequate for the provision of healthy meals in the schools.

Statement of the problem

Despite the various efforts by a number of stakeholders in the provision of healthier meals to children at school, unhealthy food has found its way into the schools therefore posing great challenge with regard to the increase in obesity rates. The federal government, school administration and the students themselves have not put forth their best efforts in curbing the rate of obesity through healthy lunches at the schools. Therefore, these possess a very big problem especially in the future since 17% of the children become obese by the time they reach third grade. The implication of this statistics is that these children are going to grow into adulthood with obesity conditions meaning that more and more adults are going to be obese. This will not be good both of the economy as well as the general well-being of the individuals because of health challenges and low productivity (research has shown that obese children perform relatively poor than those children who are not obese in terms of class work and other tasks). The programs that are meant to ensure healthy foods are provided in the school environment have also not been implemented accordingly. Therefore my research will try to determine ways of increasing the effectiveness of some of these programs with the contributions of nurses.

Objectives

  1. Determine ways of increasing healthier foods so as to reduce obesity cases among the school age children.
  2. Review the effectiveness of current legislation on the provision of healthier foods in schools
  3. To investigate the relationship between unhealthy foods in schools and obesity among school age children
  4. To find out what the policy makers are doing in addressing the problem of obesity as a result of unhealthy lunches at schools.

The questions that trail these objectives are as follows:

  1. How can healthier foods be increased in order to reduce obesity cases among the school age children?
  2. How effective are the available legislations with regard to provision of healthier foods in schools?
  3. What is the relationship between unhealthy foods offered at school and obesity rates among the school age children?
  4. What have the policy makers in Michigan State done in ensuring that healthy foods are offered at schools?

Significance of this research

The research will be able to identify the lacuna i.e. what remains to be done in the efforts to provide healthy foods as a means of mitigates cases of obese children in the Michigan state.  The research will also be beneficial to the implementation gap of the related legislations of healthy food provision in the schools. This will ensure a move closer to the set goals of healthy lunches so as to reduce cases of obesity among children.

Methodology

Partly, the methodology of this research will be an experimental design which will involve a review of secondary sources of information relating to the effects of healthier lunches on obesity rates in school age children. The research will also employ the pragmatic approach i.e. the mixed methods in carrying out the study. In relation to this, the techniques that will be used in data collection will be varied according to their suitability. Where possible, the researcher will begin with a face-to face interview with a USDA’s dietitian and then design questionnaires that will be disseminated to measure the attitudes of the larger population. The data collected will be used to carry out statistical analysis. The analysis of the data collected will depend on the measures used. Nonetheless, qualitative data can be transformed into quantitative data depending on whichever manner is more appropriate. Thus the mixed methods will ensure the triangulation which will come as an added advantage to the research through eh following:

  1. Us e of a number of data sources i.e. triangulation of data
  2. Use of a number of different researchers i.e. triangulation of investigator
  • Us e of numerous viewpoints to interpret results i.e. triangulation of theory
  1. Use of compound methods to study the problem i.e. methodological triangulation

The target group will be the school age children. The independent variable is the healthier lunches offered at the schools while the dependent variable is the rates of obesity among the school age children. There will be sampling and in this sample, at least 20 student populations in the state of Michigan and the heads of the institutions will be picked depending on the convenience  of the researcher. There will be a visit to the Michigan Food Policy Council to gather information about the development and implementation of policies related to healthier foods.

REFERENCES

Jordan, A. B. (2008). Overweight and obesity in America’s children: causes, consequences, solutions. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

Kiess, W., Marcus, C., & Wabitsch, M. (2004). Obesity in childhood and adolescence. Basel: Karger.

Mnn.com. (2011, February 8). Do school lunches increase obesity risk? | MNN – Mother Nature Network. Environmental News and Information | MNN – Mother Nature Network. Retrieved February 8, 2013, from http://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/blogs/do-school-lunches-increase-obesity-risk

Main, E. (n.d.). School Lunch Program Makes Kids Fat | Rodale News. Rodale News. Retrieved February 8, 2013, from http://www.rodale.com/obesity-problem-and-children?page=0,1

Schumacher, D., & Queen, J. A. (2007). Overcoming obesity in childhood and adolescence: a guide for school leaders. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, a Sage Pub. Co. :.