Keep it going!

Decades of data showing American kids are too heavy have begun to change direction.

This is undeniably good news, but Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters in a conference call last week, “It’s not like we’re out of the woods.”

Far from it.

Just a glance at our children in school assemblies reveals too many overweight children. Schools are making more of an effort to provide healthier food and snacks and get children to exercise more, but parents have to do their part as well.

Fortunately, the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services has initiated “Mass in Motion,” a statewide movement that promotes opportunities for healthy eating and active living.  Melrose and Wakefield are among 52 cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth that are part of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Mass in Motion Municipal Wellness and Leadership Program.

“We work with communities, schools, childcare centers and businesses to create changes that make it easy for people to eat better and move more,” according to the state website. “We also help residents think differently about what they eat and how much they move so they can make better choices to feel healthy and live well.”

Here in Melrose and Wakefield, the Health Department is increasing opportunities for residents to eat better and move more in the places they live, learn, work, and play.  Mass in Motion-Melrose/Wakefield is working to support the implementation of Safe Routes to School, Healthy Market Program, Access to Farmers Markets, Healthy Dining Program, and improving school nutrition initiatives that will make the healthy choice the easy choice for residents. 

In spite of the change in direction in the majority of states, 1 in 8 preschoolers is still obese in the United States; among low-income children it’s 1 in 7, among blacks it’s 1 in 5 and among Hispanics, 1 in 6. An obese child is five times more likely to grow into an overweight adult.

The CDC report shows the value of the long-range plan, and the importance of starting with the youngest among us. Mass in Motion targets all the age groups, including college-age students doing internships in the city and its recruitment efforts for master gardeners and farmers to teach children in the community plots.

For you and your kids, the Mass in Motion website suggests five important changes:

  •  Switch from sugary drinks (like soda, sports and fruit drinks) to water.
  • Watch no more than two hours of screen time per day (TV, smartphones and hand-held video games).
  • Get at least one hour of physical activity (including active play) per day.
  • Replace sugary, salty, fried, and fast food with fruits and vegetables.
  • Sleep at least 11 hours per day (ages 2-5 years) and at least 10 hours per day (ages 6-12 years).

Mass in Motion has the momentum.  Let’s keep it going in the right direction!

Adapted from: http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130813/OPINION/308130312&emailAFriend=1, August 13, 2013.  Thank you Barnstable County!

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