National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month Healthy Living Tips

Daphne Bascom - MD PhD
September 5, 2017
Girl Eating an Apple

September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and while the dangers of childhood obesity are well chronicled, many families need support changing their children’s habits with the goal of improving health. That’s why the YMCA of Greater Kansas City wants families to understand the dangers of childhood obesity and ways to reverse course through improved eating habits and increased physical activity as a family. 

Data from The State of Obesity reveal the ongoing challenges encountered by families in Kansas and Missouri as illustrated in the graphs below.  According to recent data from the CDC: 

Missouri

  • 45.0% of adolescents reported consuming fruit less than one-time daily.
  • 41.5% of adolescents reported consuming vegetables less than one-time daily.
  • 27.2% of adolescents were physically active at least 60 minutes per day on all 7 days in the past week.

Kansas

  • 40.5% of adolescents reported consuming fruit less than one-time daily.
  • 36.6% of adolescents reported consuming vegetables less than one-time daily.
  • 28.3% of adolescents were physically active at least 60 minutes per day on all 7 days in the past week.

While we are making progress, significant opportunity exists in helping children and families adopt lifestyle behaviors that will help reduce the risk associated with being overweight or obese.  If unchecked, obesity puts children at risk for many chronic diseases seen in adults such as high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. 

The following tips will not only help families live healthier together but also help prevent childhood obesity: 

  1. Eat & Drink Healthy: Make water the drink of choice and encourage everyone to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables by offering two or three colorful options at every meal. As a family choose a new fruit and veggie every week to taste together.  Place a full pitcher of water on the table during meals, and allow children to pour their own water. 
  2. Play Every Day/Go Outside: Children should have at least an hour a day of unstructured play outside (when possible) and break a sweat at least three times a week by getting 20 minutes or more of vigorous physical activity. Join your children in games that get your hearts pumping and bodies moving. 
  3. Get Together: Eat as a family as frequently as possible. Involve kids in shopping, meal planning, preparation and clean up. In addition, adults should take a break from electronics and spend one-to-one time each day with their kids, enjoying one another’s company. 
  4. Reduce Recreational Screen Time: Time spent in front of a television, computer, tablet, cell phone or video games should be limited to two hours or less per day. Make a family plan to reduce screen time at home (i.e. turn off screens during meals, go for a walk after a meal, set a timer to remind you to power down the screen).
  5. Sleep Well: Kids and adults need to keep a regular sleep schedule; unwind together in the evenings by reading a book or listening to soft music to ensure the body is preparing for sleep. Kids are growing and need 10-12 hours of healthy sleep per night and seven to eight hours for adults.

For more information on how your family can live a healthy, active life, visit our website or stop in at one of our 14 locations in the Metro area.


References


About the Author

Daphne Bascom, MD, Ph.D., is the senior vice president of community integrated health at the YMCA of Greater Kansas City. She leads the Y’s innovative chronic disease prevention and management initiatives. Dr. Bascom is the first physician on staff at a Y in the United States.

 


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