Schools “take control” of obesity epidemic

This is an example of the side salads served at Arvada West.

An epidemic, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is something that affects “a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time.” According to the Colorado Health Institute, “In Colorado one of every eight children between the ages of 2 and 14 is obese.” Therefore, childhood obesity in Colorado is, in fact, an epidemic. How to deal with this epidemic, however, has sparked controversy not only here in Colorado, but in states across the country; schools should be partially responsible but some say preventing child obesity starts at home.

Colorado Legislature House Bill 11-1069 states that school-mandated physical activity required by the state may include activities such as recess, field trips, and physical education classes. However, this bill only specifies that elementary schools should require physical activity. Arvada West sophomore Marissa Baker is very apprehensive about the pressure schools are putting on students, especially when compared to her own personal experiences. “Some kids are athletic; others are naturally artistic. I feel that I should be allowed to do my art classes in school and exercise on my own.”

Additionally, Baker believes that her opinion on healthy eating “differs from the schools.” She states that “In elementary schools, you have the choice of, say, salad or ravioli or pizza, but in high school they sell pizza everyday and have vending machines; your parents are not there determining what you eat like they do at home.” Most students in high schools, especially those with later lunches are very limited in their choices of lunch at school. For many, it is easier to just grab the first thing they see and go.

On the other hand, Baylee LaMarine, also a sophomore, believes that “schools should be responsible because all of the junk food they serve. If a kid likes that food, they are going to go back for more.” Junk food in vending machines can influence student choices at school, but unhealthful lunches can also decrease student healthiness. A typical daily lunch at A-West may include a hot entree such as “Asian Bar” (selections may include under cooked tempura chicken or soggy egg rolls and overcooked fried rice), Blackjack Pizza, or on some days, a salad with frozen toppings. The school does require a fruit or vegetable with every meal, but sometimes a  “vegetable” is defined as a basket of potato wedges or a wilting side salad. Baker elaborates, saying that she believes the school’s lack of fresh produce is connected with money. “It costs more money to serve fresh fruit and vegetables rather than pizza,” Baker laughs.