According to the World Health Organization, obesity levels globally have tripled since 1975. It is estimated that approximately 340 million children and teens aged 5-19 were obese in 2016. An obvious major factor in this is junk food and the lack of accessibility of healthier options. The United States is often seen as one of the highest countries in terms of obesity rates in general, and as well as with childhood obesity.
While it is only ranked as the 48th most obese state, California has a 25% obesity rate in adults as of 2017, 16% in children under 4 and 13% in high school students. The most affected population is people of color in urban areas. For Latinos, 31.7%, Native American, 32%, African-Americans, 33.7% and for White Americans, only 23%.
The inaccessibility to healthier food options plays a large factor in these statistics. Urban areas are often food deserts, meaning that the chance of a grocery store being reachable for residents is lower than the chance of there being an easily approachable corner store or gas station. Stores with natural emphasizes are almost never likely found in predominately POC populated areas, as well as farmer’s markets.
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business recently conducted a study that found that young teens can be easily swayed when it comes to their health choices. The experiment took two 8th grade classes who were shown two different presentations about healthy eating. One simply covered the basic benefits of eating healthy, while the other was essentially an exposé on the junk food industry’s manipulative marketing tactics.
The boys who were in the group that was shown the exposé style presentation showed a significant 30% decrease in junk food selections within their school. The girls of the group who watched the basic presentation also showed a decrease in their choices, as their presentations had mentioned more facts about calories, which the researchers hypothesize can trigger thoughts of societal pressures on young women to be thin.
If a group of young teens is easily swayed by learning that they are targets of an industry, then similar presentational exposés should be implemented into schools who are concerned with the choices of their student’s health. The study conducted has proven that when kids understand on a deeper level what their money goes towards and how it affects them personally, they will think harder about decisions they make.