Childhood Obesity a Major Concern

By Celeste Gregory
UJW Staff Writer

SILVER SPRING, Md.—Kenteria Jones is 9 years old and weighs 90 pounds. She often eats rice with sugar and butter for breakfast, sometimes eats hot dogs and fries for lunch, and eats heavily salted Ramen noodles for dinner.

“Mom always cooks those foods because we don’t like vegetables,” Kenteria Jones said.

There are many activities and programs that are offered to young children, just like Kenteria Jones.

First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign was designed to help decrease the amount of obese and overweight children in America. The First Lady has been advocating for young children to become more active in their schools and also outside of their schools. Obama teamed up with international singing sensation Beyoncé, to help create the music video, “Move Your Body,” which was a remake of Beyoncé’s song, “Get Me Bodied.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12.5 million children and teens are obese. The prevalence of obesity among children and teens has tripled since 1980, according to the CDC.

The major causes of childhood obesity are the lack of healthy dietary habits and physical exercise.

Kenteria Jones lives in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and is a third grader. She does not participate in any sports or extracurricular activities. After school Kentaria comes home to eat and play video games like Pac-Man, her mother Tamika Jones said.

Her mother said that she was open to the idea of encouraging Kenteria to be healthier, but sometimes it’s challenging.

“It’s just so much more convenient and better to buy junk food or heat up some hot dogs,” Tamika Jones said.

Another way to get children more active is through ZumbAtomic, said fitness instructor and owner of Renuvia Dance Fitness, Kelly Knight,. Knight teaches ZumbAtomic to kids ages 4 to 12.

“They love to dance! I’m pretty sure many of them don’t even think about it as exercise because they are having so much fun and that is the best part!” said Knight.

ZumbAtomic is a form of Zumba that is designed for kids. Like Zumba, ZumbAtomic combines Latin style dance and music with fitness.Knight said she thinks programs like ZumbAtomic could help with the fight of childhood obesity.

“Physical education is an area that many schools are choosing to cut back on to save money,” Knight said. “That combined with the poor lunch choices provided in school and kids who would rather stay inside and play video games has led to an obesity epidemic in children. When I was growing up, our idea of fun was going outside and playing.”


Founded in 1975, the Washington Association of Black Journalists is an organization of Black journalists, journalism professors, public relations professionals and student journalists in the D.C., metro area. WABJ provides members with ongoing professional education opportunities and advocates for greater diversification of the profession.