Solving Childhood Obesity

Children and Teens at the YMCA

Childhood obesity is a Family Affair

The YMCA of the Suncoast wants families to understand how adopting healthy habits together can help reduce childhood obesity.

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 YMCA — a leading community-based organization dedicated to improving health—wants families to understand the dangers of childhood obesity and ways to reverse course through improved eating habits and increased physical activity.

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, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and some cancers.

Nationwide as many as 33.6% of all youth (ages 2-19) are considered overweight or obese, according to National Institutes of Health.

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 (supplemented by age-appropriate servings of 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 at every meal.

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 physical activity. Join your children in games that get your hearts pumping and bodies moving. 

The YMCA of the Suncoast has youth sports programs and fitness activities to increase outside time. Plus, we have events the whole family can participate in.

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.

• 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.

Sleep Well: Kids and adults need to keep a regular sleep schedule; go to bed and rise from bed within 1 hour of the same time every day. Kids are growing and need 10-12 hours of healthy sleep per night 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 we implement Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards (HEPA) in our 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.

To foster your child’s health, the Y strives to:

• Provide a fruit and/or vegetable at all meals and snacks.

• Only provide low-fat 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.

• Adults model healthy food and beverage choices and active play.

• Provide parent/caregiver education to encourage healthy behaviors at home.

Learn more about the YMCA of the Suncoast Healthy Living programs and events by contacting Shannon Sprowls at 727 467 9622.