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Improving Healthy Habits during Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

UNION COUNTY, NJ - 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 Gateway Family YMCA — a leading voice on improving health— wants families to understand the dangers of childhood obesity and ways to reverse the 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 Jersey, 24.7% of all children are considered overweight or obese according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (www.ncls.org).

“Educating the entire family on improving healthy habits will go a long way to ending childhood obesity,” said Krystal Canady, Chief Executive Officer, The Gateway Family YMCA. “Once a family understands weight-related risks, they can work together to incorporate more physical activity and healthy eating habits into their daily routines.”

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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 (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 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 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 attending out-of-school programs. To create healthy environments for all children, The Gateway Family YMCA includes Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards in before and 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,” stated Melynda A. Mileski, EVP/COO, The Gateway Family YMCA.

To foster children’s health, the Y strives to:                                      

  • Provide a fruit and/or vegetable at all meals and snacks.
  • Only provide milk and water as beverages.
  • Serve meals and snacks family-style.
  • Set limits on screen time.
  • Provide daily physical activity, outdoors when possible.
  • Promote and support exclusive breastfeeding for infants.
  • Have adults model healthy food and beverage choices and active play.
  • Provide parent education to encourage healthy behaviors at home.

To learn more about The Gateway Family YMCA’s focus on Childhood Obesity, please contact Michael Johnson at 908-249-4809 or mjohnson@tgfymca.org.  For more information about The Gateway Family YMCA, visit www.tgfymca.org

 

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