From Lalita Llerena, communications director at the YMCA:
September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA — a leading voice in youth development and healthy living — wants to help families in Hillsborough and East Pasco counties live better and help prevent childhood obesity by incorporating regular physical activity and healthy eating into their daily routine.
In recognition of this important month, all Tampa Y facilities will open their doors for free every weekend (Friday – Sunday). The entire community is invited to bring the family to participate in fun, healthy activities and programs while learning more about Nemours Health & Prevention Service’s 5-2-1-Almost None formula which stands for:
Five or more fruits and vegetables each day.
Two hours or less of screen time (TV, video games, smart phones) each day.
One hour of physical activity each day.
Almost none of items such as soft drinks, sports drinks, and fruit drinks that are not 100 percent fruit juice.
In partnership with Nestlé Professional Beverages, the remaining Y weekend promotions for members and non-members are:
Sept. 13-15: Refer a friend and receive 2 months free
Sept. 20-22: Enter to win 1 free year of family membership
Sept. 27-29: Pay no enrollment fee
While a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows a small decline in childhood obesity rates among preschoolers in several states, there is still a long way to go.
Here in Florida, the childhood obesity rate among preschoolers decreased by 1 percentage point to 13.1-percent according the CDC. Nationally, one in eight preschoolers is obese, putting them at risk for many chronic diseases seen in adults such as high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
“At the Tampa Y, we want families to understand the lifetime benefits of healthy eating and active living. Those behaviors begin in the home,” said Maureen Chiodini, Associate Vice-President of Wellness. “If healthy habits are established at home they will carry over to when children are out of their parents’ care and that will dramatically help reduce obesity in our community.”
The following tips will not only help families live healthier together but help prevent childhood obesity:
- Eat Healthy: Make water the drink of choice (supplemented by age-appropriate portions of 100-percent fruit juices and low-fat milk) and make it easy for everyone to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables by offering two or three colorful options. Feel free to mix and match fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables to provide variety.
- Play Every Day/Go Outside: Kids 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.
- Get Together: Eat as a family as frequently as possible with kids involved in meal preparation and clean up. In addition, adults should take a break from electronics and spend one-on-one time each day with their kids, enjoying one another’s company.
- Reduce Screen Time: Time spent in front of a television, computer, tablet, cell phone or video games should be limited to two hours per day.
- Sleep Well: Kids and adults need to keep a regular sleep schedule—10-12 hours per night for kids and seven to eight hours for adults.
To learn more about the Tampa Y’s childhood obesity prevention programs, please contact Maureen Chiodini at Maureen.Chiodini@TampaYMCA.org or 813-224-9622 ext. 278.