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Childhood obesity prevention

President Obama has named childhood obesity one of the most urgent health issues faced by the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly one in three American children are either overweight or obese, and this rate has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents within the past 30 years.It is each and every community’s responsibility to ensure their children aren’t destined to a life plagued by the health problems associated with childhood obesity, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and even cancer, to name a few. This e-newsletter discusses ways in which cities and counties can fight the childhood obesity epidemic by promoting a culture of wellness within their communities.

Promoting healthy lifestyles in your community

Healthy habits are key to combating and preventing childhood obesity. Here are some things you can do to promote physical activity and healthy lifestyles in your town.

  • Educate via social media: Social media can be a great place to post educational stats and facts promoting the importance of physical activity and healthy eating. Consider posting a nutrition tip of the day or a healthy, kid-friendly recipe. Share a tip for getting families off the couch and active. Ask followers to post a commitment to join the fight and describe what they are going to do to get their families healthier. Hold prize drawings for those who participate—kid portion plates and animal lunch bags make nice rewards.
  • Host a community park day: Parks and playgrounds play an important role in getting children active. Promoting your parks and their many benefits is key to getting people to use them. Consider holding a community park day to generate interest of area citizens. Distribute flyers and hang banners at parks and your local rec department to promote the day. Recruit volunteers to run play groups or organize kickball and soccer games. And be sure to reward those community members who attend with a prize that promotes physical activity—perhaps a jump rope or sports flyer. You may even want to consider offering free bus or other public transportation fare for those who don’t have easy access to public playgrounds.
  • Hold a walk and roll day: Declare a community walk and roll day where families can walk or bike together for good health. Studies show that kids who regularly walk or bike have better health and academic performance. And, according to the CDC, children should be getting an hour or more of physical activity each and every day—the majority of which should come from aerobic activity such as walking or running. Promote your walk and roll event via social media and ask participants to track how far or how long they go. Families can submit their steps, miles or minutes online for a chance to win a prize—perhaps a safety bike light or walking enthusiast kit.

As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It also takes a community to raise healthy, fit and active kids. By working together, we can be sure our children have access to healthier choices for a better start.

Obama, Barack. “Presidential Proclamation – National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, 2014.” The White House. The White House, 29 Aug. 2014. Web. Retrieved 25 Sept. 2014.

“Childhood Obesity Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 13 Aug. 2014. Web. Retrieved 23 Sept. 2014.

Stampe, Elizabeth. “Walk and Roll to School: Start a Healthy Habit.” Every Body Walk. N.p., 11 Sept. 2013. Web. Retrieved 25 Sept. 2014.

“How much physical activity do children need?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 09 Nov. 2011. Web. Retrieved 23 Sept. 2014.

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