September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, which appropriately coincides with the beginning of the new school year for children across the country. It is a great time to reinforce the need for healthy eating habits and exercise. It is time to re-focus and get down to business!
The President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition is again challenging each of us to help America's youth lead a healthier lifestyle since obesity continues to increase and physical activity continues to decrease year to year. Some startling statistics:
- One in three children is overweight and one in six children is obese;
- Only one in three children is physically active every day;
- Children now spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen; whether it is to watch television, play videogames and/or use the computer;
- Typical American diets exceed the recommended intake levels or limits in four categories: calories from solid fats and added sugars; refined grains; sodium; and saturated fat;
- Americans eat less than the recommended amounts of vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, dairy products, and oils;
- About 90% of Americans eat more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet;
- Obesity-related medical conditions cost our nation nearly $150 billion every year and account for 16 to 18 percent of our total healthcare costs (1 in every 6 dollars spent).
Given what seems to be a true threat to the health of the people in our nation, we would also like to encourage parents to join their children, as role models and for themselves, and sign up for the Presidential Active LIfestyle Award (PALA+) challenge. It is a six week program involving daily physical activity and healthy eating. Here is a brief summary of what you will need to do:
Adults (that’s anyone over 18 years old): Meet your daily activity goal of 30 minutes of physical activity a day, at least five days a week, for six out of eight weeks. As an alternative, you can count your daily activity steps using a pedometer (goal: 8,500). Each week, you’ll also focus on a healthy eating goal. There are eight to choose from, and each week you will add a new goal while continuing with your previous goals. By the end of the six weeks, you’ll be on your way to a healthier lifestyle.
Kids and teens (that’s anyone between 6 and 17 years): Meet your daily activity goal of 60 minutes of physical activity a day, at least five days a week, for six out of eight weeks. As an alternative, you can count your daily activity steps using a pedometer (goal: 12,000). Each week, you’ll also focus on a healthy eating goal. There are eight to choose from, and each week you will add a new goal while continuing with your previous goals. By the end of the six weeks, you’ll be on your way to a healthier lifestyle.
Being in good shape can give you more energy, reduce anxiety and depression, improve self-esteem, and help you better manage stress. You look better when you’re in shape and eating right. Staying active is also a great way to have fun, make new friends, and spend quality time with family. There is no time like the present to help your kids and yourself to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle!!!