KIDS HEART FELT HEALTH

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Overweight Children

32% of children in the United States today are overweight – nearly 1/3 of our youth population!  In addition, in the last 30 years obesity rates among children have tripled:  today, 20% of children ages 6-11, and 18% of children ages 12-19 are considered obese.  That is 1 out of every 5 children!  In addition, 50% of kids ages 12-21 are not regularly physically active.  Because of poor diet and physical inactivity, it is projected that Americans with Type 2 diabetes will double in the next 25 yrs. to 44.1 million people (that’s 1 out of every 7 people)!  If these trends continue, for the first time in history, this generation of children may have a shorter lifespan than their parent’s generation.1  These statistics are alarming and are the reason that Michelle Obama calls childhood obesity a national “epidemic” and one of the greatest threats to America’s health and economy.

That’s the bad news.  The good news is that there is still time to reverse this trend and to change the eating habits and lifestyles of our youth population.  Donna Ryan, the President of The Obesity Society, has said:  “If you can get kids into healthier eating habits when they are younger, their weight may self-correct.  But once they become adults, weight gain is difficult to reverse.”Our program recognizes the physical and emotional challenges that overweight children face.  We will never use “scare tactics” to make children change their diets and sedentary lifestyles.  We do not tell them about health problems that could arise if they don’t change their diets, but rather, we take a positive approach by teaching them about the foods that will make them feel better, stronger, and smarter, so that they will want to choose the healthier alternatives themselves.  We also don’t want them to obsess over counting calories or to go on crash diets that will lead them down the path of yoyo dieting.  If we can get children, instead, to focus on the carbohydrate, protein, and fat content in foods, as well as portion sizes, they themselves will start choosing healthier foods and snacks (rather than feeling that they must forego the less healthy alternatives, or feeling that they have no control over their food choices). 

We sincerely hope that the knowledge overweight children will gain through our program will empower them to take care of their own health and to feel better about themselves.