Introduction to the problem:
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a federal agency, conducted a study of childhood obesity across America. The researchers found that obesity rates are growing in the rural south of the USA. In particular, Meadowbrook Elementary School (in Jackson, Mississippi) had the most alarming obesity rates among elementary schools in the USA (with 70% of students qualifying as obese). The school believes that it cannot address this concern on its own because the school is already in a budget crisis as it is. They have been laying off teachers and have cut all funding for physical education, music, and art. The school administrators agree that this is a public health problem, but they see no possible fix because the neighborhood is already so economically disadvantaged.
Meadowbrook administrators lament that they cannot break out of a cycle of disadvantage because the students are so unhealthy that they end up missing school, doing poorly in classes, and then performing unfavorably on standardized testing (which then decreases funding for the school district). In that way, the students’ health may actually be causing the school to lose money (which they certainly can’t afford to lose).
The neighboring town of Smallville, Mississippi houses wealthier families, who pay more in taxes toward the school system. There, the children attend a public school with plenty of resources for physical education, healthy cafeteria meals, and creative outlets.