September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

September 1st, 2016 by Live Well Omaha Kids

Written by Sheena Kennedy-Helgenberger, Coalition Director, Live Well Omaha Kids

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September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month – a month we use to raise awareness and show people how they can be a part of the solution.

According to the 2015 PRC Child & Adolescent Health Needs Assessment, 29% of children age 5-17 in Douglas County is overweight or obese. 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.

The good news? Childhood obesity is preventable. Encouraging families to eat healthy and be physically active is a great start, but we also need to look at the systems in which kids live, learn, and play. Communities, health professionals, and families must work together to create healthy environments for kids.

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Some of Omaha’s leaders in health spoke to Live Well Omaha Kids about the importance of childhood obesity awareness month: 

  • Adi Pour, Director of the Douglas County Health Department: “Childhood obesity has been at near-crisis levels for several years, and addressing this must be a public health priority. By teaching young people the right way to eat and healthy exercise habits, we give them a head start on a lifetime of healthy living.”
  • Kerry Kernen, Douglas County Health Department Division Chief for Community Health & Nutrition: “Childhood obesity continues to be a challenge for our community and there is no single simple solution. A collaborative approach, across multiple systems, with the family unit at the center, is needed with a focus on prevention at an early age versus intervention later.”
  • Courtney A. Pinard, Ph.D.,Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition Senior Research Scientist: “Childhood obesity is an important issue to address because both the causes and outcomes impacts everyone in our community. Even if your family does not directly experience childhood obesity, we all are exposed to increasingly low quality foods available and are touched by outcomes such as rising health care costs. Together, as a community we can address childhood obesity by supporting changes that improve access to healthier foods, at schools and where families shop for food. In addition, promoting activity in our children by helping create safe and fun environments for everyone to be active is important.”
  • Karla Lester, Medical Director of Children’s Hospital & Medical Center’s Center for the Child & Community: “The potential of our community and society to thrive relies on the extent to which we value and support the health of every child. The childhood obesity epidemic affects all aspects of a child’s life including their health, academics, development, relationships, well-being and overall success. Each one of us is a stakeholder with a mandate to fully understand the problem of the childhood obesity epidemic and then to take part in creating community solutions for children’s health. We must rise to a higher occasion and act to create healthy environments for all children.”
  • Paul Estabrooks, Ph.D., Harold M. Maurer Distinguished Chair of the Department of Health Promotion, Social & Behavioral Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health: “Childhood obesity is a health issue and children are experiencing diseases that used to only impact adults. The good news is that there is something that everyone can do –


If you have kids or are around kids – focus on health, not weight. Kids that are physically active and eat lots of fruits and vegetables and hand-sized portions of lean meat and whole grain will be healthy. 

 If you work at a school – make sure your local wellness policy includes helping kids have time to be physically activity for at least an hour every day and make fruits and vegetables a big part of school breakfast and lunch.

 If you work at a clinic – follow the American Academy of Pediatrics screening and treatment guidelines and get together with local community organizations to increase access to healthy foods and physical activity resources for families.” 

 

Sign up for the Live Well Omaha Kids monthly newsletter to keep up-to-date on the latest news, tips and resources to keep families healthy: http://livewellomahakids.org/connect/

If you’re an organization that would like to raise awareness, download our Childhood Obesity Awareness Month Toolkit. ALL children deserve to grow up at a healthy weight. Thanks for your support in spreading awareness!

 

Check out our guest blogs for National Childhood Obesity Month:

 

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