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The month of September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and an announcement from the U.S. Surgeon General states that this month is an attempt to “renew our efforts to reverse the continuing crisis of obesity among our nation’s youth.” Being overweight or obese is a result of consuming more calories than required for growth, maintenance, and movement. It is influenced by genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors.

In the past four decades, obesity rates in America have sky-rocketed among all age groups.  One in three children in the United States are obese or overweight, putting them at a higher risk for many health problems including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Childhood obesity has increased more than fourfold among specifically ages six to eleven.

Now that school is back in session and fall sports are starting up, schedules are more hectic than ever. Eating healthy and finding time for everyone in the family to exercise can prove challenging.

But don’t worry, there’s good news! Childhood obesity can be prevented. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for kids to eat healthier and move more. The Stark Women’s Center offers these tips for packing healthy lunches and keeping children active before and after school:

  • Pack something fresh and colorful! Your children will be more apt to eat their fruits and veggies if they’re bright and fun! Pack strawberry slices mixed with blueberries, or carrot sticks mixed with cherry tomatoes and include a dip made from yogurt or low fat sour cream.
  • Skip the soda. Each 12-ounce soft drink contains approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar and 150 calories. Drinking just one can of soda a day increases a child’s risk of obesity by 60%. Choose 100% juice boxes or bottled water for your child’s lunch instead.
  • Create an after school routine. Spare time is a luxury many families don’t have, but you can get your children moving after school and check a few things off your task list by encouraging them to make their beds and pick up their rooms before sitting down to

We have a national health crisis and only we can turn it around by choosing wisely for ourselves and our families!

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