JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --
September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and one in three children in the U.S. are overweight or obese. A survey of the data for McDonald Army Health Center in 2010 showed a similar prevalence of overweight and obesity in our military dependent children.
The U.S. military needs volunteers to be healthy enough to answer the call for military service, but with more than 12.7 million overweight and obese children and teenagers in the U.S. the ability to meet this call is in jeopardy.
Childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems once considered adult health issues such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. These children and teens are also at risk of low self-esteem and may struggle in school as well as have problems with body image and bullying. Childhood obesity can strain our health care system and economy in the years ahead.
The good news is that childhood obesity can be prevented. Collaborative efforts in recent years have helped the U.S. make progress in preventing childhood obesity and begin to reverse these trends.
The causes of childhood obesity are multifaceted but in the end, the increased risk for childhood obesity comes down to two factors: the lack of physical activity and the over consumption of food and drinks.
Parents are the best advocates for the health of their children. McDonald Army Health Center encourages your family to make healthy choices together. Physical activity is important and children and teens learn behaviors from their parents. It is important to be active individually and as a family, walk around the neighborhood, go on a bike ride, or play basketball or soccer at the park. Decrease children’s screen time including TV, computer, and video games to two hours per day or less. Parents do the grocery shopping, so buy healthy snacks and prepare healthy meals. Many excellent resources for parents are available on the internet.
If your child is overweight or obese, McDonald Army Health Center offers Kids Move. Kids Move is a 12 week obesity and overweight treatment program for military children ages six through 17. This is a lifestyle-based program providing nutrition education, behavior modification education, and supervised physical activity including Zumba and yoga. The program focus is on healthy lifestyle changes resulting in weight and body mass index changes. Parental involvement in the program is critical for success.
The Kids Move program director, Dr. Ann Shoemaker, McDonald Army Health Center Exceptional Family Member Program medical director, explains that you can refer your child to the Kids Move program through the Pediatric Clinic or through the child’s primary care manager.
“By working together as a community, we can make strides in decreasing the number of obese and overweight children and improve the future for our children and our country”, said Shoemaker.
In honor of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, McDonald Army Health Center and the Kids Move program encourages your family to make healthy changes together.