September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and the Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA— a leading voice in youth development and healthy living—wants to help families in the community live better and help prevent childhood obesity by incorporating regular physical activity and healthy eating into their daily routine.
While a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/childhoodobesity)shows a small decline in childhood obesity rates among preschoolers in several states, there is still a long way to go. This report noted Pennsylvania as one of three states in which the Childhood Obesity rate has actually increased. Here in Pennsylvania the childhood obesity rate among preschoolers increased from 11.5 percent in 2008 to 12.2 percent in 2011. Nationally, one in eight preschoolers is obese, putting them 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 help prevent childhood obesity:
Eat Healthy: Make water the drink of choice (supplemented by age-appropriate portions of 100 percent fruit juices and low-fat milk) and make it easy for everyone to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables by offering two or three colorful options. Feel free to mix and match fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables to provide variety.
Play Every Day/Go Outside: Kids 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.
Get Together: Eat as a family as frequently as possible with kids involved in meal preparation and clean up. In addition, adults should take a break from electronics and spend one-on-one time each day with their kids, enjoying one another’s company.
Reduce Screen Time: Time spent in front of a television, computer, tablet, cell phone or video games should be limited to two hours per day.
Sleep Well: Kids and adults need to keep a regular sleep schedule—10-12 hours per night for kids and seven to eight hours for adults.
In addition to being healthy at home, there is a need to maintain healthy habits while in school or at out-of-school programs. To create healthy environments in out-of-school programs, the Wilkes-Barre Family Y is implementing the YMCA’s national Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards in our child care, camp, and after school programs as part of the Y’s commitment to the Partnership for a Healthier America.
The steps taken by the Y include:
Provide a fruit and/or vegetable at all meals and snacks.
Only provide milk and water as beverages.
Serve meals and snacks family-
Set limits on screen time.
Provide daily physical activity, outdoors when possible.
Have adults model healthy food and beverage choices and active play.
This fall the Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA will be offering the “Family Fitness Challenge.” This is a nine-week program where children 8-12 and their families will learn how to make healthy food choices and increase their physical activity. There will be a graduation upon completion of the nine-week program and a $150 YMCA program credit for all families that successfully complete the program. In addition, a Health Coach will be assigned to each participant after program completion to provide continued encouragement and support to the participants as well as a 6 month BMI follow-up.
To learn more about the Family Fitness Challenge contact, Linda Reilly at 570-970-2191 or linda. firstname.lastname@example.org go to www.wbymca.org.Class size is limited to 20 children and the cost is FREE with a family membership. Register at the YMCA by September 30th.