Why the health aren’t we doing this?

Managing Editor/Reporter - Justin Bond

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From 2007 to 2016, The American obesity rate has increased from 36.2% to 42.8% in adults aging from 40 to 59, according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This is an alarming statistic that has climaxed for the worse in recent decades. Many would agree that this is highly attributed to a lack of care, but I would contend that it’s more of a lack of education, which encourages a lack of care. There is no quick fix here, but I believe the change starts in our nation’s youth. I believe that schools nationwide should begin to incorporate required health classes to better inform our youth of general health guidelines, tools to make healthful decisions, and prevent health illiteracy.

    One day, I was having an abstract conversation with some of my classmates during our first period class, Anatomy and Physiology. We began to drift into discussing the topic of health education. One student asked why we don’t offer health class as a required credit – a very important question to explore. After all, in a school system that doesn’t hone in on the direct mental, physical, and emotional health needs of individual students, a health class seems very efficient. They provide general health guidelines that are applicable to most people, which seems most effective. Since health is not currently required in most districts, many students will miss out on learning the fundamentals, which either directly or indirectly promotes the reduction of risky behaviors and disease, according to the New Hampshire Department of Education. Also, if all Americans were informed about health guidelines at their most basic level, we could have a solution to the obesity epidemic.

   This same Department also says that health education curricula help students learn skills they will use all throughout life to make healthful decisions. It assists in lowering student risk around drugs and alcohol, and allows students to make nutritional decisions that are conducive to good health. The latter is especially important, in that it could also dramatically reduce the obesity rate. Brian Lang of National Campaign of Healthy Food Access says that access to healthy food tends to be one of the drawbacks for most Americans as to why they don’t improve their health. I would respectfully disagree with this. Perhaps, the issue at hand is not a lack of access to healthy food, but rather a lack of knowledge as to what is or what is not considered healthy. Requiring health classes in high school could dramatically solve this issue. There will always be people that simply don’t care about living healthily, but for the majority of people, basic health knowledge will lead to overall better health choices.

    A very important reason that health classes should be required is because it prevents health illiteracy. Though this may seem obvious, it’s actually quite overlooked in today’s society. Health illiteracy is characterized primarily as a patient’s inability to understand instruction for improving health conditions from a doctor or caretaker, according to Patricia Salber MD, MBA. This makes a lot of sense. If you don’t understand what your doctor or physician is telling you in relation to your condition, it seems likely that you would take incorrect action. One obvious option is simply asking your doctor to clarify for you, but sadly, most patients are unwilling to do this. If we were to incorporate health class as a required credit to all students, this problem could slowly diminish over time. If students are more aware of certain medical instructions and procedures, they will be more likely to proceed with action that will be conducive to their well-being.

    To make such a profound change, it’s important to realize the importance of group participation. A task like implementing health education as a required course is not the endeavor of one, but of many. “You’re not just educating the individual person, you need the impetus and motivation to come from the whole community,” said Denise Bisaillon, Associate Dean of Health Professions. By requiring health classes in high school, we will undoubtedly see a profound change in the way society exists today.

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