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 ultimate goal of improving health.
That’s why The Family YMCA—a leading voice on improving health—wants families to understand the dangers of childhood obesity and ways to reverse course through increased physical activity and improved eating habits.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than tripled in children and adolescents over the past 30 years.
Today, obesity affects one in six children and one in three are overweight, which poses greater risks for a number of health problems such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and some cancers.
Here in New Mexico, 1 in 3 third graders is either overweight or obese according to a New Mexico Department of Health 2014 Obesity Update report.
“Educating the entire family on improving healthy habits will go a long way to ending childhood obesity,” Jeremy Smith, Youth Sports and Programs Director at The Family YMCA said. “Once a family understands weight-related risks, they can work together to incorporate more physical activity and healthy eating habits into their daily routines.”
The following tips are some great ways to incorporate more activity and healthier eating habits into your daily family routine:
- Eat Healthy: Make water the drink of choice 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 and frozen 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 less than two hours per day.
- Sleep Well: Kids and adults need to keep a regular sleep schedule—10-12 hours per night for kids and 7-8 hours for adults.
In addition to being healthy at home, there is a need to maintain healthy habits while attending out-of-school programs.
To create healthy environments for all children The Family YMCA is implementing Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards in our after school programs.
Our goal is to make the healthy choice the easy choice for your child while he or she is in our care.
In 2010, our Y’s Afterschool and Summer Camp programs adopted Healthy Eating and Physical Activity standards that abide by providing healthy snacks and that build in at least a half hour of physical activity.
To foster your child’s health, the Y:
- Provides a fruit and/or vegetable at all meals and snacks.
- Only provides milk or water as beverages.
- Serves meals and snacks family-style.
- Sets limits on screen time.
- Provides daily physical activity, outdoors when possible.
- Promotes and supports exclusive breastfeeding for infants.
- Has adults model healthy food and beverage choices and active play.
- Provides parent education to encourage healthy behaviors at home.
Programs & Activities – Seasonally and on an ongoing basis, the Y offers a wide variety of programs to keep youth active including martial arts, sports, rock climbing, and dance programs, and also provides a free weekly Zumba class for kids at 2:15 p.m. Wednesdays at the Y during the school year open to any participant age 6-12 with a parent-sign liability waiver.
For more information on options for youth activities, call The Family YMCA at 505.662.3100, or visit website.