YMCA offers wellness tips during Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and as children and families start their new school-year routines, it’s a perfect time to reflect and refresh your family’s healthy habits. Many families, though, need support changing their habits together in order to help children who are overweight or obese reach and maintain a healthy weight. 

That’s why the Greater Scranton YMCA — a leading community-based organization dedicated to improving health — wants to help families through improved eating habits and increased physical activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of obesity affects about 14.7 million, or one in five U.S. children and adolescents. Obesity can increase risk for health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and some cancers. Here in Pennsylvania, 15.1 % of all youth ages 0-17 have obesity, according to https://stateofchildhoodobesity.org/states/pa/.

“Experts are more aware than ever that families need support to change their eating and physical activity habits,” said Trish Fisher, President & CEO, Greater Scranton YMCA. “At the Y, we’re happy to partner with families and offer support as they work to incorporate changes to help kids grow up at a healthy weight.”

The Y also encourages families to talk with their health care providers about their children’s health. “You cannot determine whether a child is at a healthy weight simply by looking at them,” explains Fisher. “Working with a health care provider ensures that families receive the proper guidance when it comes to health and their children.”

The Greater Scranton YMCA is helping families improve their health and help youth grow up at a healthy weight through youth sports programs and incorporating daily physical activity into early childhood education programs, like before and after school care, summer camp, daycare and preschool.

While outside support is key, developing healthy habits begins at home. 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. Keep full water bottles available in the car and back packs.

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 your 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 (i.e. turn off screens during meals, charge electronics/screens in the kitchen overnight, go for a walk after a meal, 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.
To learn more about the Greater Scranton YMCA’s youth sports and healthy living programs, please contact Brandon Whipple, Wellness Director, at (570) 828-3116 or bwhipple@greaterscrantonymca.org.

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