September is recognized as Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and the YMCA of Greater Houston would like for you to join us in the effort to make our children healthier.
The numbers are staggering. More than 23 million children and teenagers in the United States, ages 2 to 19, are obese or overweight, a statistic that health and medical experts consider an epidemic. Texas in particular has struggled with fighting childhood obesity compared to other states.
• Texas’ childhood obesity rate is 20.4%
• We are ranked 7th for most obese states
• 1 in 3 children born in 2000 will be a candidate for diabetes
• Nearly 35% of Texas children are overweight or obese
Dr. Ann Smith Barnes is the Medical Director of Weight Management Services and Disease Prevention at Harris Health Systems and is an Assistant Professor at Baylor College of Medicine. Barnes and several members from the Healthy Living Matters organization recently spoke at the Community Health Forum held at the YMCA’s Center for Leadership and Development on September 5. Healthy Living Matters mobilizes policy action to curb childhood obesity in Houston/Harris County. Barnes and the Healthy Living Matters representatives discussed topics such as obesity prevention, tips and family guidelines, and brainstormed public policies that could be created to help prevent childhood obesity.
During the Forum, Dr. Barnes reiterated that people need to realize that “the healthy choice isn’t always the easy choice, but it can be.” She explained, “Parents and caregivers need to learn that there is not a magic switch to make your child healthy. It can be a lengthy process for most people, but if you take time to give your children healthier food options, make sure they exercise at least a half hour a day and lay out ground rules towards unhealthy options like sodas and candy, you can make a world of difference for their health as they transition to adulthood.”
Dr. Barnes also stated that September’s title as Childhood Obesity Awareness month gives us the opportunity to have an open platform with caregivers about improving the health of our community. Barnes said, “There is disconnect between organizations like Healthy Living Matters and parents about how to fight childhood obesity. With that disconnect, there is the more obvious disconnect from the parents to their children. We need to continue to alter public policies, raise awareness and create programs that help kids and parents become healthier and more conscious of creating healthier lifestyles.”
The YMCA offers a number of programs across Houston that are geared towards developing healthier lifestyles. Giving your child healthier options today will improve their quality of life tomorrow. Join us and organizations like Healthy Living Matters in the fight against childhood obesity.
For more information about the Healthy Living Matters organization and ways to improve your lifestyle, please visit their website. For information about programs that the YMCA provides, please visit our website.