September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and the Volusia Flagler Family YMCA a leading voice in youth development and healthy living, wants to help families in Volusia County live better and help prevent childhood obesity by incorporating regular physical activity and healthy eating into their daily routine.
While a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a small decline in childhood obesity rates among preschoolers in several states, there is still a long way to go. Here in Florida the childhood obesity rate among preschoolers decreased by 1 percent while 12 percent of all preschool age children are considered overweight or obese, according to Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System.
Nationally, one in eight preschoolers is obese, putting them at risk for many chronic diseases seen in adults such as high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
"At the Volusia Flagler Family YMCA, we want families to understand the lifetime benefits of eating right and getting physically active and those behaviors begin in the home," said Teresa Rogers, CEO, Volusia Flagler Family YMCA. "If healthy habits are established at home they will carry over to when children are out of their parents' care and that will dramatically help reduce obesity in our community."
The following tips will not only help families live healthier together but help prevent childhood obesity:
Eat Healthy: Make water the drink of choice (supplemented by age-appropriate portions of 100 percent fruit juices and low-fat milk) 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, frozen and canned 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 two hours per day.
Sleep Well: Kids and adults need to keep a regular sleep schedule -- 10-12 hours per night for kids and seven to eight hours for adults.
In addition to being healthy at home, there is a need to maintain healthy habits while in school or at out-of-school programs. To create healthy environments in out-of-school programs, the Volusia Flagler YMCA is implementing Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards in our before and after school programs as part of the Y's commitment to the Partnership for a Healthier America.
Vice President of Health Strategy, Volusia Flagler Family YMCA