Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Warning Labels for Inactivity: A New Trend in Health Education?

“This is an era where lawsuits are filed for the absence of warnings — the McDonald’s lawsuit of 1994 (81-year-old woman awarded 2.9 million dollars for being scalded by a beverage that she ordered) and of 2003 (the plaintiff complaint stated that eating at McDonald’s contributed to his obesity; was dismissed and later modified to state that the fast food giant did not disclose it’s ingredient list). Can we expect a lawsuit against professionals in the healthcare field for not aggressively educating the community about the consequences of prolonged inactivity? The answer may well be in the affirmative. In order to preemptively address this issue, I propose the following to spread awareness about the importance of incorporating moderate physical activity daily. Research certainly confirms that inactivity leads to obesity, and can advance to other diseases — diabetes, high cholesterol, cardiovascular diseases, stroke. A story covered by the Canadian Broadcast network in 2002 suggested that only 10% of 1700 high school students surveyed were participating in adequate levels of physical activity, and 40% of students were either obese or at high risk of being obese. Various hurdles to students joining gym class were cited — such as conflicts with academics and overbooked gym teachers. Some suggestions to encourage activity in students in and outside of school:
Some suggestions to encourage activity in students in and outside of school:
· Posting catchy slogans posted around the school campus (e.g. “Run! Run! Run… so obesity doesn’t catch up with you”).
· Introducing non-traditional class formats where science and math classes are held outdoors and involve learning through activity.
· Setting assignments in social studies or civics that involve research into the ill-effects of inactivity, so students come to a realization on their own; and then providing resources and options for increasing activity.”

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