September is known for back-to-school festivities and the transition into fall, but did you know that it’s also Childhood Obesity Awareness Month?
National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, initiated by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) four years ago, brings awareness and recognition to this devastating epidemic among the American youth in the hopes of ending a very real threat to the future health of millions of American children. Let’s look at some facts and some ways you can get involved.
Childhood Obesity Awareness Facts
We are grateful for this month-long promotion of awareness and action for childhood obesity, but this pressing issue should really take the spotlight all 12 months of the year.
Check out the facts:
- More than 23 million American children between the ages of 2 and 19 are obese or overweight.
- More than 1/3 of American children are at risk for Type 2 diabetes.
- Other obesity-related risks include heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.
- Childhood obesity is a completely preventable disease!
Childhood Obesity Awareness Month was created to educate and inspire the public to take action against the childhood obesity epidemic.
How to Get Involved
Whether you’re a parent, educator, or part of the community, there’s something you can do to help. Check out these ideas:
- It all starts at home:
- Educate yourself about the food and drink you consume. Encourage your own family to become more physically active and to develop better eating habits.
- Expand at the community level:
- Host an event where families can engage in fun active activities and learn about both the dangers of childhood obesity and how to prevent it.
- Post flyers in public areas.
- Tweet and use Facebook to promote activities and awareness.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local paper encouraging community leaders to become involved.
- Volunteer to host a presentation on childhood obesity and ways to prevent it at a local school or community center.
- Approach community groups like scouts, 4H, boys and girls clubs, churches, and other religious communities about hosting an event, presentation, or activity to spread awareness of childhood obesity.
- Encourage PSAs on local television and radio.
- Sponsor ads in local media—newspapers, magazines, radio, and television.
- Partner with other agencies and organizations to hold a large, free to the public event.
- Get involved with the government
- Lobby your state legislature, surgeon general, school boards, governor, other state leaders, and even the First Lady/First Gentleman to host events, presentations, activities, and to make childhood health a priority.
- Lobby for better, healthier school lunch and snack programs.
- Petition for better funding for physical education programs in schools, improved community recreational facilities, and public health programs to end obesity at all ages.
- Lobby for better and more funding for state parks and museums to encourage families to become more active.
- Lobby for changes in state-funded food aid programs to eliminate access to processed foods, foods high in sugar and fat, and soft drinks.
Childhood Obesity need not rob millions of Americans of good health and good living. It can be stopped. It can be reversed. But it will take interested individuals to take action and become involved. The future of our country is at stake. The children of America need you, and while Childhood Obesity Awareness only lasts through September, it is a cause we all need to rally behind every month of the year.