Planning Your Visit – School Nutrition

            School health and nutrition and reducing childhood obesity call for crucial attention for the health, wellbeing, growth, and development for school aged children. Changes must be made to assist schools to implement and improve on educating children on the importance of eating healthy and increasing daily physical activity. The purpose of this paper and this writer’s priority issue is to provide healthier food options on school menus for children by discussing the importance of a dietitian and their role of implementing these healthy options. In addition, recommending assisting meal programs and school gardening. The overall focus is to improve children’s diet and increase healthier lifestyle by decreasing the rate of childhood obesity.

Key Strategies

            As a nurse, nutrition is an important topic to advocate. Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the United States putting children at risk for poor health and serious health conditions (Weicheselbaum, Buttriss, 2014). According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (2017), about 1 in 6 (17%) of children in the United States are considered overweight or are considered obese. This writer’s purpose is to advocate and implement healthy lifestyles modifications starting at a young age. These concerns will be addressed by contacting the State House Representative, Shevrin D. “Shev” Jones.

            The first step in planning the visit was conducting research and gathering contact information on local schools in the community, a dietitian, and a local policy maker or legislator who seems to express the same concerns to implement healthier nutrition in schools. A detailed email outlining the current status, an overview of the plan with potential benefits or outcomes, as well as potential drawbacks and costs was sent to Shevrin D. “Shev” Jones. The principal of Pembroke Pines Charter Elementary School, Michael Castellano, the director of dining services of Chartwells, Javier Diaz, would also be contacted. After two days, a telephone call was placed and a meeting was set up with Shevrin D. “Shev” Jones. Prior to placing a telephone call and prior to the meeting, this writer prepared the night before for the meeting conversation and possible questions that may arise. Upon meeting with Shevrin D. “Shev” Jones, this writer introduced herself, gave a concise background of the years of experience in the healthcare field, and expressed how important healthy living is. The conversation then started by mentioning that this writer wants to make a policy change of changing school nutrition by including healthier options for children to chose from. In doing so, hiring a dietitian, recommending providing assisting meal programs and school gardening were suggested solutions. Facts were given about how serious childhood obesity is and the health problems associated with this condition, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, breathing problems such as asthma or sleep apnea, and musculoskeletal problems (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). With the respect of time, the importance of healthy school nutrition was emphasized, questions were asked and answered, and this writer thanked Shevrin D. “Shev” Jones for his time.

Empirical Evidence

            Another effective communication strategy or technique to support an effective visit or follow up visit with a policy maker or legislator is by teleconferencing. If there were an issue with scheduling a meeting then teleconferencing would be an alternative option. With is policy issue involving many members and it is a collaborative effort to make a change, this would be a great option. Teleconferencing is an effective way to communicate as a group in different locations who are technologically linked. Other telecommunication such as conference calls, videoconferencing, and wed conferencing extend the range of verbal communication (Chou, Promes, Souza, Topp, & O’Sullivan, 2012).

Specific Examples

            Being a nurse and working in the healthcare field for only 4 years, this writer has learned that it is not easy for one to make lifestyle modifications. Many patients are overweight or obese and suffer from chronic illness such as diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Even though education on diet and exercise is provided to these patients in the hospital, it is sometimes difficult for these patients to make lifestyle changes on their own. Childhood obesity is responsible for $14 billion in direct medical costs (Global health institute, 2016). Therefore, diet and physical activity should be taught at a very young age. As a nurse, the desire of encouraging healthy nutrition habits and physical activity for children is essential.

Conclusion

            The goal of improving meals that children eat in schools is an important step to achieve. By implementing the necessary changes to provide healthier meals in schools and educating children how to make healthier food choices, childhood obesity will decrease. Also, providing a dietitian at schools will assist in delivering healthier options. Other options are providing assisting meal programs and allowing school to begin gardening and reproduce produce for children to eat. Maintaining a well nutritional diet and incorporating daily physical activity are important in sustaining a healthy body weight. Healthy school nutrition can assist in the health, wellbeing, growth, and development for school aged children and avoid preventable illness.

Reference

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Childhood obesity facts. Retrieved from       http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html

Chou, C. L., Promes, S. B., Souza, K. H., Topp, K. S., & O’Sullivan, P. S. (2012). Twelve tips    for facilitating successful teleconferences. Medical Teacher, 34(6), 445-449.       doi:10.3109/0142159X.2012.668241

De Villiers, A., Steyn, N. P., Draper, C. E., Hill, J., Gwebushe, N., Lambert, E. V., & Lombard,    C. (2016). Primary School Children’s Nutrition Knowledge, Self-Efficacy, and Behavior,       after a Three-Year Healthy Lifestyle Intervention (HealthKick). Ethnicity &           Disease26(2), 171–180. http://doi.org/10.18865/ed.26.2.171

Global Health Institute. (2016). Over a lifetime, childhood obesity costs $19,000 per child.           Retrieved from globalhealth.duke.edu/media/news/over-lifetime-childhood-obesity-costs-       19000-child

Weicheselbaum, E., & Buttriss, J. L. (2014). Diet, nutrition, and schoolchildren: An update.          Nutrition Bulletin, 39(1), 9-73.

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