Obesity Becoming a “Bigger” Problem

By Daulton Parmer and Errol Hammond –

“I’m getting fat, what’s for lunch? Fries? Yes,” a statement that could be made by some Penn Manor students.

While recent studies show that the overall rates of obesity have plateaued, obesity is widespread and continues to be a leading public health problem in the U.S. Penn Manor’s teen population is not immune to the condition and some adults here have noticed.

Anne Butterfield, Penn Manor High School school nurse, sees obesity as a huge problem in the U.S.

“Obesity leads to chronic health problems,” said Butterfield. “It causes an increase in insurance, diabetes is a huge issue, a chance of cardiac disease, joint displacement from all of the pressure on them, loss of limbs, blindness, and ultimately, death.”

Bacon Cheeseburgers photo by Daulton Parmer

Butterfield’s words are backed up by national statistics. More than one third of U.S. adults are obese. That is 35.7 percent, nearly 78 million people, this is according to Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

“Kids don’t realize that there is an unbalanced scale between the calories they take in and the ones they take out,” Butterfield said. 

“The best diet is the one you know the most about, lean protein, fruit and exercise… it’s really common sense.  People need to make a habit, habits usually take a month and a half to develop,” said Butterfield

While the Penn Manor lunch ladies do their job, they do also observe the kids and their eating habits.

One lunch lady stated, “that’s the problem with this generation, they don’t get out and exercise.”

Sheryl Wolf, the cafeteria manager, said, “There are some who are very concious. You will have a group who will say, ‘can’t I have something other than fries?’  Then unfortunately, you have people, I hate to say it, girls, who are very heavy and are continuing to eat fries. You just can’t. Especially if you have that metabolism in your body.  You can not eat those fries every day.  I think boys are more conscious than girls. I have a group of guys that want different things.”

But the high school, like other schools,  are trying to cut down on ‘bad foods’ in the cafeteria.

“Over the last couple years, there has been a reductions on the menu,” said the Food Service Director, Randy Wolfgang, referring to the district’s emphasis on providing leaner, more healthy cafeteria meals.

He said the district cut out foods with trans fats even before the government required it.