This September marks the second annual National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. According to HealthierKidsBrighterFutures.org:
- Obesity rates in the U.S. have soared among all age groups in the last four decades, and childhood obesity has increased more than fourfold among those ages 6-11.
- More than 23 million children and teenagers in the U.S. ages 2-19 are obese or overweight, a statistic that health and medical experts consider an epidemic.
- These obesity statistics put nearly a third of U.S. children at early risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even stroke – all conditions usually associated with adulthood.
- Even great disparities exist among young Hispanics and children of color.
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation encourages parents to make a difference with five simple steps:
1. Be a Healthy Role Model – Parents are key role models for their children and when young people see adults making a sincere effort to improve their habits, they start to realize that eating healthy and staying physically active is important.
2. Make Healthy Schools the Norm – Schools are an essential setting for establishing healthy eating and daily physical activity as the norm. Parents can urge school leaders to make health a priority and to the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program at no cost.
3. Ask the Family Doctor Key Questions – Parents can ask their health providers for advice on a how to ensure that kids eat better and move more. Healthcare providers can be a powerful ally in the effort to keep kids healthy and fit.
4. Instill Healthy Values in Kids – Keep it positive. Getting healthy is something to be excited about–and it should not feel like a chore or a punishment. If parents about the importance of eating right, staying active and being healthy in an empowering way, kids will start on the road towards a lifetime of healthy habits.
5. Make a Commitment to Health – Don’t try to overhaul everything at once, but make a commitment to implement gradual changes to family meals and physical activity patterns will make a difference.
Resources for Healthy Snacking:
- The Smart Parent’s Guide to Snacking – Parents Magazine offers tips for healthy snacks and when to serve them.
- Healthy School Lunches and Snacks – This article from Parents Magazine has tons of ideas for tasty lunches that will keep your child full of energy and nutrients.
- Healthy Snacks from A to Z – Read this great list of healthy snacks to have on-hand from Parents Magazine.
Resources for Getting Your Kids Active:
- Exercise Videos for Kids – The American Council on Exercise and Hershey’s Moderation Nation put exercise ideas to video and show that getting your kids active can be creative and fun.
- The Art of Balance – Balance is crucial to developing coordination in a child. Parents Magazine suggests balance-building exercises for kids and notes benchmarks for balance development.
- Fun Ways to Get Your Kids to Exercise – This article from Parents Magazine has tips from other Moms and great exercise ideas for toddlers and preschoolers.
- Women, Infants and Children – Check out these childhood obesity resources from WIC, a government program committed to children’s nutrition that is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Toolkit from HealthierKidsBrighterFutures.org – This toolkit for Childhood Obesity Awareness Month is full of statistics about childhood obesity and offers tips for spreading the word through local media and civic organizations.