Since implementing National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month in 2010, childhood obesity rates have actually stopped rising. However, 30 percent of American children are still overweight or obese.
Childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, and chronic health conditions like asthma, sleep apnea and joint pain. In addition to physical health problems, children with obesity are often teased, which can lead to social isolation, depression and low self-esteem. Finally, children with obesity are more likely to have obesity as adults, which can lead to a lifetime of health problems.
The good news is that childhood obesity can be prevented. The American Heart Association reports that children who eat healthy foods and get daily physical activity have fewer school absences, higher academic achievement, higher self-esteem and have fewer behavioral problems. Early childhood is the best time to teach children to favor a healthy diet, but it’s never too late.
Many children consume half their daily food intake during school hours. That means what kids eat at school has a huge impact on their overall health, energy levels and mental acuity. Replacing junk food in vending machines with healthier snacks and drinks is a great way to keep kids fueled throughout the day.
It Takes A Village
Addressing childhood obesity starts at home, but community support strengthens efforts across the board. Here are some ways communities, health professionals, schools and families can work together to help kids achieve and maintain and healthy lifestyle:
• Encourage physical activity each day: inspire active play and get outside with the kids.
• Provide nutritious, lower-calorie meals and snacks in place of high-sugar and high-fat junk foods.
• Choose water over sugary sodas.
• Limit screen time. Not only does this inhibit physical activity, but children are also exposed to over 30,000 ads each year and more than half are for sugary cereal, candy and fast food.
• Practice what you preach: be a healthy role model.
This month, let’s renew our dedication as parents, schools, childcare providers and communities to improving the health and well-being of our America’s youth. Working together, we can make a difference!
HealthyYOU Vending honors National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and is committed to doing its part to end childhood obesity by promoting healthy choices in school vending machines. For more information about having a HealthyYOU Vending machine placed at your school, visit www.healthyyouvending.com.