A healthy start: programs focus on exercise, nutrition for kids
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Instructor Kelli Peters leads a stretching exercise. Terry Mayer photo.
ROSCOE--Childhood obesity has more than tripled during the past 30 years, and about 20 percent of children in the United States are considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
That troubling trend hasn’t escaped the notice of groups in the Stateline area that focus on keeping kids healthy.
The Winnebago County Health Department recently received a $296,472 We Choose Health grant from the Illinois Department of Public Health. The health department plans to use the funding to partner with other agencies to establish obesity and tobacco prevention programs.
“It is important that we all work together, area organizations, schools, local health departments, municipalities and others to improve the health of people in our communities,” Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, Illinois Department of Public Health director, said in a news release.
“There is an urgent need to accelerate progress in obesity and tobacco prevention, some of the most significant contributing factors to the increasing chronic disease burden borne by individuals, families, workplaces and communities,” Micheal Bacon, public health director for the Winnebago County Health Department, said in the release.
The Rock County Health Department offers the Color Me Healthy program, in which representatives visit local schools, day-care centers and Head Start sites to educate children about nutrition and exercise.
“It’s a hands-on curriculum,” Laura Conklin, health educator for the Rock County Health Department, said. “We talk to the children about eating healthy and exercising and the benefits of healthy living.”
The Transform Rock County Coalition, which includes the health department and other local agencies, recently received a $450,000 grant, which will be used to help promote healthy eating, physical activity and smoke-free living to local children.
“Hopefully, we will be able to do a lot of good with that grant,” Conklin said.
Conklin said it also is important for parents to educate their children about proper exercise and nutrition.
“Parents can be good role models for kids. If (children) see their parents eating healthy and see their parents exercising, they will want to do it, too,” Conklin said. “When it comes down to it, (proper nutrition and exercise) are the two things that can help children become healthy and affect change.”
NorthPointe Health and Wellness in Roscoe offers several programs to help children get up and moving. The center recently hosted a fit camp in which children, between the ages of 4 and 9, met twice a week for two hours to participate in sporting activities and nature walks.
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Contributors to obesity
-- Eating large portions during meals
-- Consuming foods that are high in fat, such as fried foods, junk foods and fast food
-- Lack of exercise or physical activity
-- Consuming high calorie drinks, such as soda
-- Participate in physical activities, such as bike riding, walking or playing sports
-- Participate in community sports leagues or activity groups
-- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
-- Participate in activities as a family
-- Limit time in front of the TV and computer
-- Park farther away when shopping
-- Do not use food as a source of comfort or an award
Source: Nutrition and Health Associates, Inc.