Lack of regular exercises has been highly ranked as the major cause of a ruinous condition called obesity (excess amount of body fat) in children and adolescents.
In the USA, obesity has been ranked as the second major preventable killer, after tobacco smoking. Obesity has profound effects on a child’s life. It causes numerous health, emotional and social problems.
Obese children find it difficult to fit in schools because they are often discriminated against by their peers. They feel odd, which hinders them from participating in major school activities like sports, which further complicates their problem.
Children with this condition can become obese adults, increasing their risk of serious health problems such as heart disease and strokes.
Schools can help children and adolescents to cut weight if frantic efforts are made to ensure that all students go for physical exercises and they eat healthily.
According to the Rwanda National Curriculum Development Center (NCDC), each O-level class is supposed to have one P.E (Physical education) lesson in a week. While I cannot factually say whether this is adequate or not, it is no doubt helpful for the students.
If well enforced, the risk of children becoming obese can be drastically reduced. Physical inactivity leads to accumulation of weight if a child consumes more calories than he or she uses.
The popularity of television, computer and video games translates into increasingly sedentary (inactive) lifestyle for many children, according to the emedicinehealth website.
Limiting television viewing to no more than seven hours a week can be handy in curbing obesity. Not only does television viewing use little energy, it also encourages snacking.
The shift of children’s dietary habits away from healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains to a much greater reliance on fast food, processed snack foods and sugary drinks is a dietary cause of obesity.
Other patterns associated with obesity are eating when not hungry and eating while watching television or doing homework.
Schools have a mountainous task of ensuring that students engage in healthy lifestyles especially when it comes to exercising and diet.
In boarding schools, many students tend to dislike certain healthy foodstuffs in favor of snacks and sugary drinks, oblivious of the impending health risk upon them.
School canteens should be always closed and opened at specific times to discourage students from eating fast foods all the time.
Governments, charitable organisations, NGOs and individuals should step up the fight to abrogate this lethal preventable condition of obesity.
The author is the Director Of Studies at Nu Vision High School, Kabuga.