Updated: Jul 8, 2022
Michelle Obama shows her hula hoop skills to kids during a Let’s Move activity.
The first month of the year represents new beginnings and one of the things that folks put on the list in January is to lose weight. In fact, that is something most Americans need to do. According to the Center for Disease Control 70% of adults age 20 and older are overweight, including those that are obese. These stats are costly. The economic impact of being overweight can affect earnings. Those who are overweight tend to have higher rates of absenteeism, lower productivity and higher medical costs. Though this health concern impacts folks from coast to coast, it’s a particularly weighty matter in Southern states, which have been labeled the “obesity belt.” We all need to watch it and be mindful that children model the behavior they see.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama helped put childhood obesity on the radar. In an effort to aid parents, childcare providers and children in battling this bulge, she focused on healthier eating—more fruits and vegetables, installed a garden at the White House for home-grown produce, promoted staying hydrated with water and got kids moving. The Let’s Move! Campaign initiative focused on setting the table to raise a generation of healthier kids. Youth carrying too much weight can face many of the same health issues that we see in adults—propensity to develop heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, poor body image and low self-esteem.
It is no wonder that childhood obesity has been creeping up. Today many children do not walk to school, snack-time has ballooned from one snack to an average of three each day and technology has given rise to sedentary leisure. Between the PC, smartphone, Gameboy and video gaming it can be hard to get those young bodies moving. This is where the adults have to become actively involved. Here are some easy recommendations of behavior you can adopt and encourage the young people in your family circle to try.
You Are What You Eat—Keep an assortment of colorful fruits and vegetables on hand. The more colorful the food, the better it is for you. Add something new to the shopping cart. If you see an item, you’re unfamiliar with in the produce section—buy one or two to sample and learn the nutrients that it contains. You can actually make this a family activity. It is amazing that some young people are unfamiliar with typical fruits and vegetables, let alone some of the new items like kiwi, jackfruit or purple cauliflower. Encourage your kids to eat 5 to 7 fruits and vegetables every day.
Let’s Move—Get active and encourage your children to do the same. Young people age 6 to 17 need to be active 60 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week. If you have a dog, encourage the kids to join you in walking the dog or join your designated dog walker for at least one of those walks each day. If you’re going to the Y to work out, see if they have an activity program for children at the same time. Getting in the routine of going to work out is an excellent habit to help children develop. Try your hand at some of the activities and sports your kids enjoy—there is nothing more entertaining to kids than to see the adults in their lives trying to jump rope, hula hoop or simply race them to the corner!
Try to adopt these suggestions and include them in your family activities for the next 30 days. You’ll find that everyone will have fun, be less stressed, and more energetic by including these simple changes in their lifestyle. Try it—I am pretty sure you will like it too.
Take Away: Children model the behavior they see in adults. Make a few changes in family activities and eating habits. The results will benefit the entire family.
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