Great news from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – efforts to curb childhood obesity are working! According to new research, 19 states have seen a decrease in the number of obese preschoolers ages 2 to 4. Twenty other states and Puerto Rico saw their numbers remain the same. This means the number of preschool children at an unhealthy weight has fallen from 17% to 12% since 2008.
The CDC can’t pinpoint one single factor that led to the decrease, but changes to programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) may have contributed. In a recent article, Jim Marks, MD, director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Group, said that WIC “encouraged families to buy more fruits and vegetables, with the goal of improving children’s health and nutrition.”
Other programs, like Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, have also given childhood obesity and overweight a national spotlight. Let’s Move has brought awareness to the issue by creating fun ways to get kids and adults thinking about health. School lunch menu changes and vending machine updates have their roots in Let’s Move and a new effort combining hip hop and dance as physical activity will be announced later this month.
The positive new comes just as we enter Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Celebrated every September, this month is dedicated to help kids maintain a healthy weight and begin an honest dialogue with parents and caregivers. Locally, the Healthi Kids initiative is working to reverse the trend on childhood obesity through policy and practice change. Among other efforts, Healthi Kids continues to monitor the Rochester City School District’s (RCSD) breakfast and lunch program and recess implementation.
RCSD has made great strides to improve student wellness over the last few years, but determining the success of these efforts requires community support. Healthi Kids is asking parents, neighbors, and residents to participate in observations of how children are adjusting to new food options, and to measure how much unstructured, supervised recess is provided daily in elementary schools. Both projects will allow Healthi Kids to identify the need for further improvements to help kids stay healthy and active.
It is clear that both the country and our community are getting serious about childhood obesity. By working together, we can reverse this trend and let kids get back to the business of being kids.
For more information, or to learn how you can get involved, please contact Lauren Morelle at (585) 224-3121 or at email@example.com