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Becoming a Healthy Active Family – Reversing Childhood Obesity Together

With September being National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and going along with the Healthy Living article, I wanted to help give you and your family some ideas to help make steps towards a solution. One in 3 children in the United States are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems that were once seen only in adults, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The good news? Childhood obesity can be prevented. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for kids to eat healthier and get more active.

Creating a family fitness plan need not be complicated or overwhelming. What it really means is a new commitment to adding more activity to your life. Coming up with a plan for how to do that makes it more likely that you will succeed. (It might help to think of it as a challenge you tackle together.) 

Family Fitness Plan Dos and Don’ts 

Do send the message that physical activity is a fun, healthy habit that makes you feel good, not a chore to be endured. You can do this by: 

Setting a good example. Choose action over electronics whenever you can. Walk to the store instead of driving, take the stairs, and shelve the leaf-blower in favor of a rake. Even if you’re not athletic, you can move!

Enjoying exercise. Whether it’s a vigorous kickboxing class or a leisurely walk, tell your child how you feel after you’re done. Energized? Happier? Tired, but proud of what you accomplished?

Playing together. Kids love your attention. Take them to the playground, go outside for a game of catch, or have a spontaneous dance party.

Praising effort, not results. Your child won’t be able to ride a two-wheeler or sink a basket on her first attempt. To fend off frustration (in both inactive and active kids), be sure to acknowledge how hard they’re trying.

Offering positive reinforcement. If your child makes a healthy choice, notice—out loud. When he learns a new skill, record it on video and show it to friends and family.

Asking her to teach you. Is she a star skater or a whiz at water polo? Request a lesson! Active kids love to show off their expertise.

Don’t fall prey to confidence zappers like using exercise as punishment, offering food as a reward, or using scare tactics. Instead of “If you watch too much TV, you’ll get fat and sick,” say, “Riding your bike helps make your legs and heart strong.”

 How can National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month make a difference? 

We can all use this month to raise awareness about the obesity epidemic and show people how they can take steps toward a solution. 

Here are just a few ideas: 

  • Encourage families to make small changes, like keeping fresh fruit within reach or going on a family walk after dinner. 
  • Motivate teachers and administrators to make schools healthier. Help them provide healthy food options and daily physical activities for students. 
  • Ask doctors and nurses to be leaders in their communities by supporting programs to prevent childhood obesity. 

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