The topic of childhood obesity is interesting to me, both personally and professionally. My job is to help people create a healthier lifestyle, and I’m also the mother of three small children. But I’ll be honest, when I see stories on the news about the latest obesity statistics, it’s easy to start tuning out all of the depressing facts and figures. Mainstream media talks a lot about the problem (that’s become an epidemic), but not as much about the solution. What can we start doing today, right now, in our own homes and communities to help turn this around? What can we do to make sure the next generation isn’t the first one to have a shorter lifespan than their mothers and fathers?
September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. The COAM (Childhood Obesity Awareness Month) movement is designed to provide resources for parents, educators and communities to help improve the overall health of our children. “More than 23 million children and teenagers (31.8 percent) ages two to 19 are overweight or obese, a statistic which health and medical experts say constitute an epidemic. Overweight or obese youngsters are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, psychological problems, bullying and more.” The movement is led by the American College of Sports Medicine to educate people about the problem and also encourage preventative action. The COAM website offers a free toolkit to help you get started.
So what’s the first step you can take to help combat the problem of childhood obesity? I strongly believe that it starts at home. We can create all kinds of programs in schools and in the community, but if healthy habits aren’t being established at home, then these programs won’t be successful. Talk to your kids about healthy eating and the importance of being active. I don’t talk to my kids about “diets” calorie-counting, but we talk about how healthy foods will help them become big and strong. They don’t spend much time (if any) in front of the T.V. I encourage them to go outside and play. Activity and healthy eating are a normal part of our day. If it’s not currently a normal part of yours, start slowly making changes to move things in a healthier direction.
Still not sure how to begin? Check out the 10 Commandments of Healthy Eating for Parents and Fun Family Fitness Ideas.
What have you done to encourage healthy habits in your children? Are there programs in your area that have been successful at tackling the problem of childhood obesity?
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