What can parents do to help their children from becoming overweight?
September is First “National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month”
By Lynnea Mahlke
September is the first “National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.” Politicians and the media will suggest that kids need to put away their video games and cell phones and get outside and play. They’ll also declare war on school lunches, fast food and vending machines. With nearly one out of every three American children being clinically overweight or obese, the health and well-being of future generations is undeniably at risk. As we approach the end of September, what have we learned and what can we do to ensure our children don’t become part of these statistics?
A Fitness/Mother View
As a parent and fitness club owner, Lynnea is “doing something about it” This summer Anytime Fitness partnered with the Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut to offer a variety of free outdoor fitness events, such as hiking, bike rides, Nordic Walking, etc. “We wanted to encourage our members and the community in general to get out and get active. If we expect our kids to turn off the TV and go outside to play for at least an hour a day, shouldn’t we try to do the same ourselves?” asks Lynnea. The Purple Bench (www.purplebench.com) events will continue this fall with walking programs, “kids & weights” and even a workout session on the beach.
The members of an organization called COAK – the Coalition of Angry
Kids (www.coak.org .) are “angry” because adults aren’t doing enough
to help children lead healthy lifestyles. More than 1,300
participating Anytime Fitness clubs are answering by offering adults
free 30-day memberships with other complimentary services to get adults
The study adds to an existing body of evidence suggesting that
sleep plays an important role in weight regulation, perhaps because
tired children are not as active or because sleep affects hormones that
influence hunger and appetite, according to the paper’s lead author,
Janice F. Bell, an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Public Health in Seattle.” (New York Times, 9/6/10)
So, how do we get kids sleeping more? Think back to your own childhood...how much time did you spend outdoors?
“ I grew up in the sixties in New England,” shares Susan Epstein, Parent Coach. “The winters were brrrr! And the springs were rainy...lots of rain. We played for hours in the snow and we didn't have waterproof mittens, either. I still remember banging on the door asking for a dry pair because the pair I was wearing was completely frozen with icicles hanging off!”
“By the age of 10 I had my own paper route. The papers were delivered at 4:30PM, 7 days a week 365 days a year. I did this for 4 years on foot! I saved every penny, banked it and made a whopping $400! And guess what, I walked the route in all weather.”
Susan’s point is, the outdoors was a huge part of her universe. It was good for her and good for her mother. (She got things done and got a break from the kids!)
But sadly, the world has changed and parents are afraid to let children roam unsupervised (They might get snatched!) Or maybe your neighbors will judge you! "That parent doesn't supervise her children!"
In 2005 the Manufacturers of Persil washing powder did a survey...called "Dirt is good", with 33 things your child should do before the age of 10.'
Here are some Susan chose that are fun and that encourage outdoors activities:
These activities don't cost a cent, offer plenty of fresh air and get the kids tired, which helps kids sleep lots of hours. According to the studies, kids who sleep more are less likely to have a weight problem. This is a wonderful start to a full, active healthy life that you can provide your children.
Contributed by these Past Board Members of SECT Women’s NETWORK:
As profiled on GRACE magazine website, www.graceforwomen.com