September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and many families need support changing their families’ habits with the ultimate goal of being a healthy weight. That’s why the Westfield Area YMCA wants families to improve eating habits and increase physical activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity affects one in six children in the U.S. and one in three are overweight, which poses greater risks for many health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and some cancers. Here in New Jersey nearly 1 in 4 children are overweight or obese according to the Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health.

“Successfully lowering obesity rates in children requires the whole family to change their eating and physical activity habits,” said Susan Morton, Vice President of Operations, Westfield Area YMCA. “In our Early Learning and School Age Child Care programs, Healthy U is included in the curriculum.  The goal of Healthy U is to promote the healthy behavior changes that will help prevent childhood obesity through a three-pronged approach of nutrition education, increased physical activity, and family involvement.”

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The following tips are some great ways to incorporate healthier eating habits and more physical activity and into your daily family routine:

·         Eat & Drink Healthy: Make water the drink of choice and encourage everyone to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables by offering two or three colorful options at every meal. As a family choose a new fruit and veggie every week to taste together.  Place a full pitcher of water on the table during meals, and allow children to pour their own water.

·         Play Every Day/Go Outside: Children 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. Join your children in games that get hearts pumping and bodies moving.

·         Get Together: Eat as a family as frequently as possible. Involve kids in meal planning, preparation and clean up. In addition, adults should take a break from electronics and spend one-to-one time each day with their kids, enjoying one another’s company.

·         Reduce Recreational Screen Time: Time spent in front of a television, computer, tablet, cell phone or video games should be limited to two hours or less per day. Make a family plan to reduce screen time at home.  For example, turn off screens during meals, go for a walk, set a timer to remind you to power down the screen.

·         Sleep Well: Kids and adults need to keep a regular sleep schedule; unwind together in the evenings by reading a book or listening to soft music to ensure the body is preparing for sleep. Kids are growing and need 10-12 hours of healthy sleep per night and seven to eight hours for adults.

Registration is ongoing for all Westfield Area YMCA Child Care Education programs for the 2017-2018 school year including full-day early learning, preschool, enrichments, kindergarten wraparound, full-day kindergarten and school age child care. Please call 908-301-YMCA (9622) or visit www.westfieldynj.org to learn more. Tours are also available. Financial assistance is available to those who qualify.

The Healthy U program is the result of a collaborative partnership between The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance. Through preschool, after-school and school-based programs, Healthy U impacts more than 90,000 children, ages 3 to 13, at 480 YMCA and elementary school sites statewide.  

The YMCA is the nation’s leading nonprofit committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Visit www.westfieldynj.org to learn more about Westfield Area YMCA programs.  Financial assistance is available for those who qualify.