CHARLOTTE – September marks Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and as a leading voice for youth development and healthy living, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte offers ways to prevent and combat this serious health issue.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in five children in the United States is considered obese, putting them at a higher risk than their peers for serious health conditions and growing into adults who are more at risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many types of cancers.
“Childhood obesity has generational impact that extends into adulthood and impacts families and communities,” said Adrianne Hobbs, executive director of youth development for YMCA of Greater Charlotte. “At the Y, we’re committed to teaching and showing kids and families the power of healthy habits, including diet, positive food choices, outdoor time, exercise and more. Healthy kids grow into healthy adults.”
While healthy habits begin at home, families often need community support to be successful. The Y aims to make healthy living approachable, affordable and accessible. The sooner kids start developing healthy habits, the more likely they are to avoid obesity-related health problems and grow into healthy adults. The following tips are some great ways to incorporate healthier eating habits and more physical activity into your daily family routine:
• 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. Keep water bottles available in the car and back packs.
• 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.
• Get Together: Eat as a family as frequently as possible. Involve kids in 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.
• 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, charge electronics in the kitchen overnight, go for a walk after a meal).
• 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 to 12 hours of healthy sleep per night and seven to eight hours for adults.
September means back to school and as kids return to the classroom, it can be challenging to keep up the level of activity they had during the summer. The YMCA of Greater Charlotte is aiming to keep kids moving during out-of-school time, through both afterschool and sports programs that provide exercise, create healthy habits and build confidence.
With afterschool programs that support kids with homework, healthy snacks and a wide array of activities, kids get guidance for living a balanced life outside of school.
On the web: www.ymcacharlotte.org.