October 6 is National Child Health Day, and while the dangers of childhood obesity are well-chronicled, many children who are overweight or obese don’t realize it. That’s why the YMCA of Greater Erie wants families to understand the role weight perception plays in childhood obesity and ways to reverse course through increased physical activity and improved eating habits.
A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics says about 30 percent of children and adolescents aged 8–15 in the United States misperceive their weight, with approximately 81 percent of overweight boys and 71 percent of overweight girls believing they are about the right weight. If unchecked, obesity puts children at risk for many chronic diseases seen in adults such as high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
“The best way to find out if your child’s weight might be affecting their health is to visit your pediatrician or primary health care provider,” said Jill Simmons, Vice President of Childcare Services for the YMCA of Greater Erie. “Once a family understands any weight-related risks, they can work together to incorporate more physical activity and healthy eating habits into their daily routines. “
The following tips are some great ways to incorporate more activity and healthier eating habits into your daily family routine:
In addition to being healthy at home, there is a need to maintain healthy habits while in childcare, school or at out-of-school programs. To create healthy environments for all children independent of size in out-of-school programs, the YMCA of Greater Erie is implementing Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards in our early learning and before and after school programs as part of the Y’s commitment to the Partnership for a Healthier America. Our goal is to make the healthy choice the easy choice for your child while he or she is in our care.
“We’ve begun to pilot some of these standards in 2013 – making adjustments to our snacks and meals. We are working with our food providers to incorporate fresher fruit and vegetable options,” said Simmons. “Parents can look for these standards to be fully integrated into our programs throughout 2015 & 2016.”