What are Meridian schools doing to keep student obesity at bay?

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By Lauren Captain
The Meridian Times Staff Writer

It can be quite alarming to hear the statistics with obesity in the United States, but Michigan is one state to be especially worried about.

From the year 1990 to 2014, the obesity rate in Michigan jumped from 13 percent of overweight people to an alarming 32.6 percent. What is most concerning about this last number is that the age group of 10 to 17 years old occupies almost half of this number. This number is 14.8 percent, which happens to almost the same number of obese people of all ages in Hawaii. This is something to notice and not ignore.

Graph from "The State of Obesity"

Graph from “The State of Obesity”

Principal Bart Wegenke of Haslett High School believes that not only the primary education of the students makes them healthier, but also the athletic activity the students receive from their physical education providers, if the students are willing to put forth the effort.

“Our teachers and administrators support healthy lifestyles through planned health education curriculum, encouraging students to participate in athletics and activities, etc.,” Wegenke says.

Not only do the teachers agree that getting your blood level rising is an important task to do throughout the day, but students also agree.

A freshman at Haslett High School, Chyna Marie Bach, said at all grade levels from elementary school through high school, the severity of how the physical education teachers teach and emphasize health learning changes.

“P.E. in high school is not optional. The only way you can get out of it is having two health credits and if you take two seasons of a sport each year. But if you take P.E., it is required every day and for at least one hour a day,” Bach explains.

She continues, “even though all the teachers and staff taking being healthy seriously, such as exercising regularly, they do not teach that eating right is a major part of being healthy. I think this is a reason why the state of Michigan is so obese.”

Could this potentially be the cause of Michigan’s obesity rates rising? A student from Okemos High School, Martina Yen, may feel different about this situation.

“The reason I am not in gym class is because of health classes. Not all of it is about healthy eating, but about a healthy lifestyle,” Yen says.

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Photo from Gallup-Healthways