Children with Disabilities Left out of Efforts to Fight Childhood Obesity

Oct 25, 2011
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During my Master’s program, I served as a part-time Adapted Physical Education teacher in the Charlottesville, VA area. And while I did my very best to educate my students as to why physical activity and healthy eating were important, there were not many outside sources helping to push the same agenda. Most of my students had limited access to inside and outside school physical activity opportunities as well as opportunities for health education.

Year after year we hear about the astonishing childhood obesity rates displayed by the children of this country. In recent years, we have come together as a nation to promote healthy living by increasing physical activity levels and making healthier daily food choices. The promotion of healthy living has been pushed on Americans of all ages with the hopes that if children see the adults around them leading healthy lives, that they will be swayed to do the same. About 2 years ago, we saw the launch of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign; a campaign created with the main focus of encouraging families and communities to come together to help children see the importance of leading a healthy life and fight obesity. While I fully support initiatives, like the First Lady’s, I cannot help but notice the lack of attention the affect childhood obesity has on children with disabilities. It makes me wonder, where the initiatives to promote healthy living and fight obesity among children with disabilities are.

According to Center for Disease Control reports, obesity rates for children with disabilities are 38% higher than those of their non-disabled counterparts (CDC, 2011). Children with disabilities’ struggles with maintaining a healthy weight can be contributed to limited food choices, medications that can lead to fluctuation in weight and appetite, limited physical abilities, lack of energy and lack of available resources. By no means am I saying that initiatives created to promote the prevention of obesity among children with disabilities do not exist, I am just simply expressing my disappointment with national efforts to fight obesity among children with disabilities.

Author: Tamika Jones

  • BobLujano

    It would have been great if the first ladies initiative would have included children with physical and cognitive disabilities. I believe that it was inferred but it would been great if it was stated or had PWD in the advertising.  

  • BobLujano

    It probably indirectly meant to include kids with disabilities, but it would have been great to state it.