Monday, September 14, 2015

September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

In the United States, 1 in 3 children is overweight or obese and, according to the 2013 Colorado Health Survey, nearly 1 in 4 children are overweight or obese in Colorado. Childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems that were once seen only in adults, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Many different factors contribute to children being overweight and obese, such as lack of physical activity. In Colorado, only 13 percent of kids walk or bike to school, and less than a quarter of Colorado kids have physical education 5 days a week.

Two other factors that largely contribute to childhood obesity are consumption of unhealthy foods and unhealthy drinks, such sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs). Did you know, for example, that an extra soft drink a day increases a child’s risk of becoming obese by 60%? And that drinking one or two cans of soda a day increases risk for diabetes by 26%? Despite these hard facts and many more, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and the American Beverage Association have spent at least $106 million to defeat public health initiatives at the federal, state, and local levels since 2009, according to an analysis conducted by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Less expensive food and drink are oftentimes more accessible and obtainable, but tend to have lower nutritional value. Access to fresh produce can be limited due to higher cost- eating healthy can be expensive! Ensuring all kids have adequate access to healthy food is essential to decreasing obesity in Colorado’s children.

The good news? Childhood obesity can be prevented. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for kids to eat healthier and get more active. In honor of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month this September, Jefferson County Public Health encourages your family to make healthy changes together. We all have a role in helping raise awareness around childhood obesity and the contributing factors, because we all have a role in building a healthier Jefferson County for our future generations. Here are some easy, helpful tips to get started:

Get active outside: Walk around the neighborhood, go on a bike ride, or play basketball at the park. There are so many sunny days and great places in Jefferson County to spend outside;
Limit screen time: Keep screen time (time spent on the computer, watching TV, or playing video games) to 2 hours or less a day; and,
Make healthy meals: Buy and serve more vegetables, fruits and whole-grain foods.

Taking small steps as a family and as a community can help our future Jefferson County generations stay happy and healthy. As Jefferson County residents, we have a wealth of open land full of beautiful walking and hiking trails which are a great way to get active. To find out more about our Open Space areas in the County, visit our Open Space page. For more information on childhood obesity rates and health effects, please visit JCPH’s Achieving a Healthier Weight (Obesity Prevention) page. For additional information on how to choose healthy foods and be physically active, please visit the following sites:

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