Central Lincoln County and Boothbay Region YMCAs want families in Lincoln County to understand how adopting healthy habits together can help reduce childhood obesity. Accordingly, their Healthy Weight and Your Child program started in March.
Many families need support changing their family’s habits, with the goal of overweight and obese children obtaining and maintaining a healthy weight. That’s why the CLC and BR YMCAs — leading community-based organizations dedicated to improving health — want 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, the prevalence of obesity has remained stable at about 17 percent and affects about 12.7 million children and adolescents. Today, obesity affects one in six children, and one in three are overweight, which poses greater risks for many health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and some cancers.
“For years, parents have heard the dangers of childhood obesity but making the necessary lifestyle changes — as a family — remains the biggest barrier to real progress,” said Casey Clark Kelley, director of operations at the CLC YMCA. “Together we can learn healthy behaviors, and community-based organizations like the Y can provide a helping hand.”
In partnership with LincolnHealth, CLC and BR YMCAs are helping families improve their health and potentially reduce the impact of childhood obesity through their upcoming program, Healthy Weight and Your Child, an evidence-based program for children with obesity. The program includes 25 sessions delivered over four months.
The family-based weight-management program focuses on nutrition education and physical activity to encourage healthier eating habits and an active lifestyle to reach a healthy weight. In order to qualify for participation in the program, the child must be 7-13 years old, carry excess weight, with a body mass index of the 95th percentile or higher. The child must receive clearance from a health care provider or school nurse to participate in physical activity, and the parent/caregiver must attend all sessions.
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 the daily family routine:
• Eat and 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 vegetable 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 backpacks.
• 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. Adults can join children in games that get hearts pumping and bodies moving.
• Get together: Eat as a family as frequently as possible. Involve kids in meal planning, preparation, and cleanup. 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, a computer, a tablet, a cellphone, or video games should be limited to two hours or less per day. Make a family plan to reduce screen time at home; in other words, turn off screens during meals, charge electronics/screens in the kitchen overnight, go for a walk after a meal, set a timer as a reminder to power down the screen.
• Sleep well: Kids and adults need to keep a regular sleep schedule and 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 YMCA’s Healthy Weight and Your Child Program, please contact Casey Clark Kelley, director of operations, at 563-YMCA (9622) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The CLC YMCA is a key collaborative leader improving the quality of life for all by being the champion for youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. For information about any of the Y’s events, visit clcymca.org.