Did you know that:
- American obesity rates have increased 37% between 1998 and 2006. The average adult is 23 pounds overweight.
- About one-third of American kids are overweight, with more than 15% of them obese. It is estimated that by the end of 2010, some 20% of children in the United States will be obese.
- The problem is starting earlier than ever – the obesity rate for children 6-11 has more than quadrupled over the past four decades.
- Between 1997 and 2005, the prevalence of 11 chronic conditions associated with overweight/obesity grew 180%.
- PE programs have been cut back as schools have come under pressure to meet national academic standards.
- Among children ages 9 to 13, more than 61% do not participate in any organized physical activity during out-of-school hours.
As a parent, these numbers are shocking to me. The concept of everything in moderation is definitely out of balance for a large portion of society.
The numbers come from the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation – an unprecedented partnership of leading brands that have joined forces to help reduce obesity. Their 80+ members and partners include national retailers, food and beverage manufacturers, sporting goods companies, and insurance companies as well as non-profit organizations and trade associations. HWCF wants to help consumers lead healthier lives by making energy balance – calories in balance with calories out – a daily habit. They are doing this by increasing access and opportunities for physical activity and healthier nutrition options and by raising awareness of the energy balance approach – in the marketplace, in the workplace and in schools.
Let’s get back to basics for a moment. Food is fuel for our bodies. The calories in food are converted into energy. Our bodies burn the fuel it needs to get us through our daily activities and stores the rest in the form of fat. The growing obesity issue is primarily due to this unbalanced equation. In general we are eating more, eating higher calorie portions and burning less energy – our balance is off. It is time we tip the scales back to a more sensible, balanced approach to living to put a stop to this trend.
Teach your kids the concept of fueling their bodies for the activities they do. In other words, “Eat well, play hard, burn energy.”
Some of the strategies I have implemented in my own family include:
- Menu Planning – Each Sunday afternoon or evening I take a few minutes and look at the upcoming week’s schedule. I figure out what nights we have sports or activities and plan our week’s menu. By planning the meals I find we eat more balanced meals and save so much money on our family grocery bill.
- Buy Fresh – Fresh fruits and vegetables are one of the best ways to help tip the balance back towards better eating habits. Take the kids with you and shop local farmer’s markets for fresh, local grown produce. Encourage them to ask questions, pick from a rainbow of colors and try new foods. If you have the space (even if it is just a container on the windowsill) try planting tomatoes with the kids. Who knows, you may even spark an interest in gardening.
- Have a Kids Cook Night – When kids are involved in the selection and preparation of their own food they are more apt to try new things. Encourage the kids to help you in selecting meals and teach them how to cook using fresh ingredients, healthy cooking techniques and fun presentations.
- Get Active – Start by setting an example for your kids. Invite them to join you for walks, hikes, a friendly backyard soccer match, or go swimming. Find some of the activities you and your family enjoy doing and do them together. Encourage the kids to try different sports and get them signed up for some form of organized sports – from neighborhood soccer or swim leagues, to dance, karate or similar sports lessons. And while you are at it, go visit Parents.com where you could win $250 to put toward family activities.
I encourage you to visit the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation to become more educated on ways to help your family find the energy balance, try out new recipes and get involved in ending the obesity trend.
This post was sponsored by the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation and while I am being compensated for my time, this is a topic I feel very strongly about and my views are my own.