REVERSING THE OBESITY TREND: Building a Healthier America, One Family at a Time.
Obesity rates have more than tripled in recent decades, with one in three American children and adolescents considered overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Children who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and other obesity-related health problems. At this rate, says former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, "we may see the first generation that will be less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than their parents." However, the problem of obesity in America's children is reversible, if we, as parents - along with schools, government officials and industry leaders - take action.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama first took a stand in the fight against childhood obesity back in 2010, when she launched her Let's Move! Initiative. The comprehensive initiative urged each of us - including parents, schools, government officials, health care professionals, and others - to do our part to reduce childhood obesity. As a result of the program, public schools offered healthier food options, Let's Move! Active Schools across the country build 60 minutes of physical activity into their school days, and national branding initiatives pushed the consumption of water as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.
Today, Michelle Obama continues to speak up for raising a healthier generation of children, through her involvement with the Partnership for a Healthier America, whose upcoming Innovating a Healthier Future Summit will be held May 2-4 in Washington, D.C. The mission of the Partnership for a Healthier America is to develop industry-specific, measurable solutions to childhood obesity.
While Michelle Obama and others are doing their part at the industry and government levels to combat the problem, there is plenty that we, as parents, can do to ensure that our children do not fall among the statistics.
Here are five "Take Action" Steps FOR KIDS, from the Let's Move! initiative itself:
- Engage in 60 minutes of active play every day. Set goals for every day of the week, participate in activities that get you and your entire family moving, such as riding bikes, taking walks, or playing Frisbee of other games, and reward yourself for staying active.
- Try a new fruit or veggie. Tag along with your parents on a food-shopping trip and ask to try a new fruit, make a colorful fruit or vegetable salad, and aim to eat a variety of colors to ensure you are getting a variety of nutrients. If you're new to trying new fruits and vegetables, perhaps make it a goal to try a new color each day of the week and work up to eating a variety each day. Reward yourself for meeting your goals.
- Drink lots of water. In general, kids should drink 6-8 cups of water a day. Try adding a slice of fruit like lemon or lime, or even a cucumber or watermelon, to make water exciting. Set a goal for how much water you want to drink each day and keep track of how you're doing.
- Do jumping jacks to break up TV time. For example, during the commercial breaks of your favorite show, try being active: dance, run up and down the stairs, jog in place, practice yoga moves, and so much more! In addition, it's helpful to keep track of your screen time so you know just how much time you spend behind a computer, TV, or device each week.
- Help make dinner. Help to plan healthy meals, shop for ingredients, and prepare the food. If you pack your lunch, create a menu with a variety of foods that you like that are good for you.
The bottom line: make building healthy habits both rewarding and fun! Kenson Kids believes this, and that's why created three new products to get kids moving: our award-winning Movez(TM), Pick n Roll Movez(TM), and the "I Can Do It!" Reward Chart Supplemental Exercise Pack.
The statistics on childhood obesity, while alarming and frightening, don't have to spell out the future for our children and their peers. The nation's leaders are stepping up to do their part. As parents, we an do our part as well, to beat the statistics and build a healthier America, one family at a time.