Sweet summertime is here. Warm weather and sunshine … a great time to be outside getting some vitamin D and why not some physical activity at the same time?
Obesity is on the rise across the nation. Summertime is a great time to develop new healthy habits to not only help ourselves but also our families. Some people are not crazy about exercising, but physical activity is vital for a person’s overall well-being. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report children and adolescents need 60 minutes of physical activity a day.
Childhood obesity is on the rise throughout the country, and Henry County is no exception. About 19% of children and adolescents in the United States are obese — a record high, according to the latest data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
“In the past thirty years, the prevalence of childhood obesity has more than doubled among children ages two to five, has tripled among youth ages six to eleven, and has more than tripled among adolescents ages twelve to nineteen,” according to the National Institutes of Health.
The Obesity Action Coalition reports that childhood obesity affects more than 30% of children, making it the most common chronic disease of childhood. Without intervention, obese infants and young children will likely continue to be obese during childhood, adolescence and adulthood.
Children and adolescents with obesity are at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, bone and joint problems, poor self-esteem, depression, bullying and more. Childhood obesity is influenced by many factors. Today’s environment plays a major role in shaping the habits of children and adolescents, from the prevalence of advertisements promoting unhealthy foods and eating habits to the increased sedentary lifestyle thanks to the growing use of computers, video games and televisions. Healthy lifestyle habits, including healthy eating and physical activity, can lower the risk of becoming obese. It is important for parents to choose healthy foods for infants and children because food preferences are established in early life, as well as lead by example by showing them the importance of physical activity.
It is easier than you think to move more and get more active. A simple way to move more would be to park further from the store or restaurant entrance. This allows you to get more steps in, which in turn helps you get some physical activity without having to really try.
Another quick exercise tip would be to walk in place as you watch television or listen to podcasts. Make physical activity family fun, such as taking walks after dinner or playing yard games (yard darts, cornhole, horseshoes, etc.) outside with your children. Exercising does not have to be strenuous or overwhelming. One small step at a time.
Improving the diet and exercise habits of the entire family is one of the best strategies to help reduce childhood obesity. When communities, schools, child care providers, and parents work together, we can make it easier for children and youth to choose healthier foods, beverages and physical activity.
For questions or comments contact your child’s school nurse or call 644-3916. Also, like and follow Henry County Coordinated School Health on Facebook for more information on mental, physical and nutritional health.
KAYLA GLOVER is a registered nurse, the Henry County School System’s family and community coordinator, and nurse at Lakewood School. Her email address is gloverk@ henryk12.net.