Take a second and think back to what it was like when you were 8 years old. Now, I have a few questions for your childhood self. Tater tots or green beans? Cookies or fresh fruit? Pizza or grilled salmon? If you were anything like me as a kid, it would be tots, cookies, and pizza all day long.
Unfortunately, too much of this unhealthy food and too little exercise has resulted in an explosion of childhood obesity in the United States. Nearly one in three children in this country is overweight or obese. Obesity puts children at risk for things such as high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes, conditions that were once only seen in adults.
September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, a time for families, communities, and schools to take action to prevent childhood obesity. For the past several years, Danya has supported the efforts of CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health and School Health Branch to provide resources to schools to help curb this growing health problem. For example, check out the Danya-designed Youth Physical Activity Guidelines Toolkit (image left) for helpful tips and tools for promoting youth physical activity in schools and communities.
Schools across the country are doing more than ever before to address childhood obesity with innovative activities such as engaging students in planting vegetable gardens that are harvested for school lunches, adding salad bars to cafeterias, involving students in taste-testing healthy recipes for school lunch menus, and incorporating physical activity into classroom lesson plans.
Schools are doing their part, but they are only a portion of the equation. Families and communities also need to take an active role in children’s nutrition and physical activity to combat childhood obesity. So let’s hear from you. What are some ways to encourage kids to put down the pizza and pick up some fruit or put down the video game controller and pick up a ball?
By Jeff Slutz