Solution Proposal Matraca Mckay

Writers Memo:

I found this part of my paper to be particularly interesting: All of the facts that I was unaware about obesity and also coming up with the solution.
This part was surprisingly difficult: Coming up with the counter arguments was the most challenging part of the entire paper and also adding detail to those counter arguments.
Next time I would do this differently: Next time I would ask for more help concerning my counter arguments because I feel that I do not have enough information around them.

Portion Control Can Change Lives

Childhood Obesity is a growing problem that needs to be resolved. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that, "Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years"("Childhood Obesity Facts"). Children are not getting enough physical activity and are eating way more then they need to. There is a balance to a healthy lifestyle that simply has disappeared in most adolescent's lives. At the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Legislative Conference, in September of 2010, Michelle Obama stated "Childhood obesity isn't some simple, discrete issue. There's no one cause we can pinpoint. There's no one program we can fund to make it go away. Rather, it's an issue that touches on every aspect of how we live and how we work" (qtd. in Holecko). There are many different aspects that contribute to the growing obesity problem, but the lifestyle these young children are participating in is the biggest contributor. A start to help control the growing childhood obesity epidemic, would be to make mandatory portion sizes for all restaurants.

The lifestyle children have is one of the leading factors to childhood obesity. Children are not getting enough exercise, nor are they eating healthy foods. Most children now days would rather play video games, than go outside and play. "Children see up to 10,000 food commercials every year. Most of these are for candy, fast food, soft drinks, and sugared cereals"(Kaneshiro). Sadly, this fact is true and unfortunate. Watching TV and playing video games is not a healthy lifestyle to have. Too often video games are becoming babysitters for parents, their child is sitting in one place staring at a game, that potentially may not have the best influence for their child. Advertisements seen while watching TV or from playing video games may lead to temptations and cravings for food, and when the cravings start, it is wanted right then and there. Unfortunately, these crave-able foods are so easily accessible, and when that unhealthy food starts to get eaten, a lot of it gets digested.

Much of what we eat is quick and easy — from fat-laden fast food to microwave and prepackaged meals. Daily schedules are so jam-packed that there's little time to prepare healthier meals or to squeeze in some exercise. Portion sizes, in the home and out, have grown greatly. Plus, now more than ever life is sedentary — kids spend more time playing with electronic devices, from computers to handheld video game systems, than actively playing outside. Television is a major culprit ("Overweight and Obesity").

Families are always on the go. Whether it's going to school, work, sports, meetings, or what ever it may be, the lifestyle busy families live is unhealthy. Grabbing some McDonald's because it is quick, easy, and cheap on a weekly basis is a major contributor to the obesity of children. Today, food from a drive-through is typically super-sized; sometimes if a customer doesn't specify what size they want the restaurant will automatically charge them for a large and that's what they will get. The large is the new medium. With these super-sized meal options, the larger portion sizes are leading to overeating. "Overeating is a habit that is reinforced by restaurants that advertise high-calorie foods and large portion sizes (Kaneshiro). When restaurants are giving customers larger portions of food they are demonstrating irrational proportion sizes. When a person eats that much food at a restaurant they think they need to eat that much food at home as well. This concept relates to the quote above, that portion sizes in home and out have grown so much!

Average portion sizes have grown so much over the past 20 years that sometimes the plate arrives and there's enough food for two or even three people on it. Growing portion sizes are changing what Americans think of as a "normal" portion at home too. It is called portion distortion("Serving Sizes and Portions").

Chart above from ("Serving Sizes and Portions").
In the graph above from 2013, the National Institute of Health shows that portion sizes have in fact have doubled.
From school lunch rooms, vending machines, mall food courts, and endless food chains, children are surrounded by unhealthy food choices.

About 55 million school-aged children are enrolled in schools across the United States, and many eat and drink meals and snacks there. Yet, more than half of U.S. middle and high schools still offer sugary drinks and less healthy foods for purchase. Students have access to sugary drinks and less healthy foods at school throughout the day from vending machines and school canteens and at fundraising events, school parties, and sporting events ("A Growing Problem").

Children have the opportunity to get unhealthy food at most of the places they go. Continuing on with the lifestyles children are living, children are not getting enough exercise; there are not enough safe playgrounds and parks for children to play on.

For some families, getting to parks and recreation centers may be difficult, and public transportation may not be available. For many children, safe routes for walking or biking to school or play may not exist. Half of the children in the United States do not have a park, community center, and sidewalk in their neighborhood ("A Growing Problem").

There may be parks around, but those parks may be run down, broken or falling apart. These parks may also be in a not so good neighborhood. If parents are working more then one job, to support their family, there might not be a safe park for their children to go and play at. People in low income families may not have the transportation to parks or even to places that have healthy food. The closest store they may have is a gas station that only sells unhealthy processed food. What gas station sells fresh food or has non processed food as an option? Not many. Also produce is much more expensive than processed food as well. This does not make it easy on families that have an extremely tight budget and living on every penny. In schools the cuts of Physical Education is increasing and the school lunches are not getting healthier. The increase in childhood obesity is starting at the environment where kids spend most of the time, school. "One study showed that gym classes offered third-graders just 25 minutes of vigorous activity each week"("Overweight and Obesity"). As a future teacher, the focus should be teaching the children the importance of their health; leading and promoting physical activity. Physical activity is key to helping maintain a healthy weight. Governments are obsessed with academic standards and not focusing on what children are doing to maintain their health, like the school lunch programs and activities such as a physical education class.

Outside of school, the second place children spend most of their time is their home. "If a parent is overweight and has poor diet and exercise habits, the child is likely to adopt the same habits"(Kaneshiro). Also, "Studies have shown that a child's risk of obesity greatly increases if one or more parent is overweight or obese"("Overweight and Obesity"). Meaning that if a parent or guardian is leading by a poor example of not eating healthy and being physically active, the child will view that as okay and act just like them. Like the old saying "monkey see, monkey do," children are constantly looking up to their parents. Parents need to start teaching by example. To an extent, parents control what their child eats, they buy and they make the food they are eating. The parent's lack of nutritional health education is affecting their child's life.

Many people would argue against with what this paper is about. Argue that childhood obesity is all about the genes the child carries, their genetics, and that there is nothing society can do about it. While genetics may play a role, they are not the leading factor, and should be handled in a medical manner. A person can control what they eat and how much physical activity they participate in. A person can control the amount of calories they consume and where the food is coming from. If a family has a history of obesity, don't eat fast food or junk food; work out more and be active! There are solutions out there to help decrease the growing population of obese children. The best solution would be to have restaurants have a mandatory portion size, that all restaurants have to follow in the United States.

To help solve this growing problem restaurants need to follow true portion sizes. In recent years, the food pyramid has changed into a plate. This pyramid was created in 1992 and many nutritionists frowned upon it, they did not like it because it was often misread and misinterpreted. (Neuman). The old pyramid had grains being the largest portion of food for daily nutrition. The plate is broken down into four different groups, fruit and vegetables taking up half the plate, and protein and grains take up the other half of the plate. Off of the plate there is a smaller circle the represents dairy. The United States Department of Agriculture shows a great example of what true portion sizes are by representing them on the plate below.

William Neuman quotes Michelle Obama,

"This is a quick, simple reminder for all of us to be more mindful of the foods that we’re eating,” Mrs. Obama said. “We’re all bombarded with so many dietary messages that it’s hard to find time to sort through all this information, but we do have time to take a look at our kids’ plates. If the filled plate looks like the symbol, with lots of fruits and vegetables, she said, “then we’re good, it’s as simple as that" (qtd. Neuman).

Neuman also goes along stating that, "The first part of the campaign will encourage people to make half their plate fruit and vegetables. Later phases will urge consumers to avoid oversize portions, enjoy their food but eat less of it and drink water instead of sugary drinks" (Neuman). When talking about eating less and not over eating there is a very useful guide to follow. When making a fist, that is how much rice, pasta, fruit or veggies that should be eaten. The size of the palm, is how much meat, chicken, or fish that should be eaten, and a handful for nuts or raisins (Ridgeway).

With this change of the food pyramid to the plate; there are multiple steps for restaurants to take to improve their portion sizes. First of all, the government needs to step in and take charge, even more then they are doing now. A law will have to be passed, so that restaurants serve the correct portion sizes and restaurants will have up to two years to have their menus changed and their plates incorporate the correct portions sizes. Here is how a law is passed from the United States House of Representatives:

First, a representative sponsors a bill. The bill is then assigned to a committee for study. If released by the committee, the bill is put on a calendar to be voted on, debated or amended. If the bill passes by simple majority (218 of 435), the bill moves to the Senate. In the Senate, the bill is assigned to another committee and, if released, debated and voted on. Again, a simple majority (51 of 100) passes the bill. Finally, a conference committee made of House and Senate members works out any differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. The resulting bill returns to the House and Senate for final approval. The Government Printing Office prints the revised bill in a process called enrolling. The President has 10 days to sign or veto the enrolled bill ("The House Explained".)

Once this law passes it is up to the restaurants to start the change. The first step, is to educate the employers and show them the correct amount of food that should be given to a customer. It will also be important to educate the employers the importance of the change they are participating in. With this step in progress, restaurants will realize how much money they are saving by limiting the amount of food on each plate being served. The second step restaurants should do is to to change the entire menu to the correct portion sizes, not just the kids menu. By changing the whole menu it will show that the parents are eating the correct portion sizes; when parents are eating the correct amount of food it will show the kids to eat the correct amount as well. Parents are the primary example in children's lives. The third step is to influence other restaurants, once one restaurant follows the correct portions sizes for meals many will follow. When food is ordered at restaurants it typically comes with way more food then actually needed.The following image shows the correct portions the average person should be eating. The following picture from a blog shows the portion distortion of the average hamburger from a restaurant.
When restaurants follow the correct portion sizes they are also helping the growing food waste problem. If restaurants start serving less food then they are producing less waste as well. According to a petition on, 40% of all food produced in the United States is wasted ("Pledge to Reduce Food Waste").

If this law does not pass, there are many other ways this issue can be addressed. The first thing to do is to get a larger city on bored. Explain to the city the pros of this change; that if they all follow the accurate portion sizes that they would not be losing money, they would be saving money by not giving so much food per plate. Once one city is on bored, then many surrounding cities will see what a great thing they are doing and want to get on bored the train to change obesity. Another approach that could be taken is to start a petition. A petition is a great tool to get the word out. When a petition is going around it will show how many people approve of a possible new law being enforced.

If there were regulations on portion sizes in restaurants we would have a "smaller" society. There would be less plates like the picture above on the left and more plates like the picture on the right. Kids would want to be more active and they would have a controlled diet. When these types of regulations get implemented, it will start to improve the health of obese children. Though regulating the portion sizes restaurants serve, it isn't the only way to refining the health of children. Parents also need to be more educated on the effects of what junk food will do to themselves and their children's bodies. Yes, junk food is much cheaper than healthy food, but the key is to limit the intake of the junk food. Parents can also control how much exercise their child experiences. This is something that cannot be controlled by the governments but can be controlled within the household. Some suggestions, limit the child's screen time, go for walks or bike rides with them, or play in the yard. There are endless possibilities to exercise with young children.

There are many other possible solutions that could help the growing childhood obesity epidemic. The government could place a tax on unhealthy food to help decrease the price of healthy food; but what are the circumstances? Where is the line that differentiates healthy food and unhealthy food? From candy bars, chips, pop, doughnuts, french fires, pizza, and chicken tenders; is it the ingredients or the calories that make it an unhealthy food? That is the problem with this solution, with every kind of food, if it contains large portions of it, it is still not good for a person. That is why portion control is so important and will help improve society. Another plausible solution is to blame it on the school lunches. While school lunches play a huge role in a child's day, schools are all ready changing what they serve at lunch and the growing obesity problem is still growing. The last solution that may work is the government stepping into the social environment aspect. There is one minor problem with this though, people don't like being told what to do, especially by the government. When the government steps into people's everyday lives, they do not and will not listen to what the government has to say. With this being said, if the government steps into the restaurant field and regulates the portion sizes it will be okay. People will understand that they are benefiting from eating smaller portion sizes.

Our first lady states at a childhood obesity summit, "Our kids didn't do this to themselves. They don't decide the sugar content in soda or the advertising content of a television show. Kids don't choose what's served to them for lunch at school, and shouldn't be deciding what's served to them for dinner at home. And they don't decide whether there's time in the day or room in the budget to learn about healthy eating or to spend time playing outside"(qtd. in Holecko). Childhood obesity is on a dramatic incline that needs to start decreasing. The leading cause of obese children is the lifestyle the children are living. Children are participating in the go-go-go lifestyle and it is affecting their health because of the fast, easy and accessible unhealthy food. This easily accessible unhealthy food is too often served in larger then needed portions. If portions were controlled, society would not have obese children. The portion sizes have more than doubled in the last twenty years and there is not enough exercise or physical activity happening. From school to home there are instigators for children to eat bad; school lunches, vending machines, and parental influences. With regulations on portion sizes it will teach children how much they should be eating of each food group, and improve the health of children around the nation.

"A Growing Problem." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 Apr. 2013. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.

"Childhood Obesity Facts." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 July 2013. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.

"" United States Department of Agriculture, n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.

Holecko, Catherine. "Michelle Obama Quotes on Childhood Obesity." Family Fitness., 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.

Kaneshiro, Neil K. "Causes and Risks for Obesity - Children: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia." U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 3 Feb. 2014. Web. 05 Mar. 2014.

Neuman, William. "Nutrition Plate Unveiled, Replacing Food Pyramid." New York Times. New York Times, 2 June 2011. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.

"Overweight and Obesity." Kids Health. Ed. Mary L. Gavin. The Nemours Foundation, 01 Oct. 2012. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.

"Pledge to Reduce Food Waste." N.p., 2014. Web. 12 May 2014.

Ridgeway, Sue. "Portion Control." Diet-to-Go. Diet-to-Go, 21 Oct. 2011. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.

"Serving Sizes and Portions." Eat Right, NHLBI, NIH. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institue, 30 Sept. 2013. Web. 05 Mar. 2014.

"The House Explained." The Legislative Process · N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.

W, Gabrielle. "Here’s a Portion Control “reality Check”." FiTMAPPED. N.p., 19 Sept. 2013. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.

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