3 Healthy Steps To Setting Yourself Up For Academic Success

Obese ChildBy Dominick Cooper, Director and Lead Creative Tutor of Launch Academy, Winner of the Davinci Scholar Award, and University Guest Speaker

In the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, there is a rather rotund character by the name of Augustus Gloop. Pretty much obsessed with eating (especially chocolate), Augustus ends up following his belly instead of his brains and finds himself eventually stuck in a chocolate transportation pipe.

Oops. If you’ve watched the movie, you know he is dismissed from the premises and loses his chance to win the lifetime supply of chocolate. Perhaps that’s a good thing, in his case.

However, a walk down a high school hallway in Oklahoma will show that over 20% of the students suffer from obesity. With one in every five students being obese,
the reasoning of “genetic obesity” does not cut it. The problem is very real and very dangerous and can’t be ignored! While an person’s self-image is important, obesity raises many other serious health risks – like death, for instance. Thankfully, there are ways we can fight this epidemic’s progression and get you back on your academic feet!

1) Eat Right – One of the causes of obesity in children is their nutrition (or lack thereof) provided by the schools. Malnutrition is the lack of essential vitamins and minerals in a person’s diet and can affect an obese student as much as a starving child. Cheap foods made with high fructose corn syrup, “instant” ingredients, and high fat/carb/sugar content all contribute to the problem. Coincidentally, these high sugar/fat foods end up giving the student a “sugar rush” after eating, immediately followed by a crash, coincidentally when your post-lunch class is starting – thus you don’t pay attention.

Providing healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables and simply replacing butter with a light amount of oil could pay dividends not only in a student’s health but also their academic success. Some experts are saying orange juice and other high vitamin C juices have enough kick to be an energy drink! Many schools have even started their own student-tended gardens to provide these favorable alternatives. If they haven’t though, make the decision to choose an apple over a cookie.

2) Chill out – Another cause of obesity, which cannot be ignored, is stress. Many people eat more when they’re depressed or stressed – and I don’t mean eat more celery or berries. While this junk food eating temporarily takes the edge off, it’s a downward spiral. In the words of a character from Austin Powers, “I eat because I’m unhappy, and I’m unhappy because I eat.” Obesity and stress, like any other illness, can be avoided through prevention, so take time to relax and chill out.

3) Go outside – By far, the major cause of obesity is simply inactivity. Simple activities like having “walk and talks” with your friends, biking to school when possible, or going geocaching (pretty fun stuff!) can pay dividends in the student’s future health. Obesity is not a joking matter, especially in our school systems. I encourage you to find ways to be an example of a healthy lifestyle among you and your friends (or students, if you’re a teacher) and play your part in fighting this epidemic and raising student success.


Stay Smart.


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