Wearing a seatbelt increases your odds of surviving a car accident, so you make sure to always buckle up. It doesn’t make sense to take unnecessary risks.
Why isn’t that same rationale used with food and exercise? Obesity is a preventable cause of death, and yet 30 percent of adults choose to ignore the warning signs. When overweight adults ignore the warning signs, it’s likely that they’re raising overweight children (who often grow up to become overweight adults, and so the cycle continues).
Today, 11 million kids are overweight, and an additional 13 million are at risk for being overweight. As a result more and more kids are developing conditions and diseases that we would normally associate with adults–high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes.
To combat this epidemic, the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation have joined together to form the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The Alliance’s goal is to stop thenationwide increase in childhood obesity by 2010 by taking bold, innovative steps to help all children live longer and healthier lives. Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) and celebrity chef Rachael Ray also support the Alliance. The Alliance will positively affect the places that can make a difference to a child’s health: homes, schools, restaurants, doctors’ offices, and the community.
Since the launch of the Alliance in May 2005, the American Heart Association has joined forces with Nickelodeon in the “Let’s Just Play Go Healthy Challenge” and implemented the Healthy Schools Program to recognize schools that foster healthy environments and assist schools that need help reaching health goals. They also negotiated an agreement with the beverage and snack food industry to provide low-calorie and more nutritious beverages and snacks in schools. An interactive website for children 9-13 has been launched to teach heart-healthy habits by encouraging good nutrition and physical activity.
Healthy children often grow up to become healthy adults, who–in turn–raise healthy kids, keeping the cycle going. For more information, visit www.healthiergeneration.org.
To Help Children Develop Healthy Habits
– Be a positive role model. If you’re practicing healthy habits, it’s a lot easier to convince children to do the same.
– Get the whole family active. Plan times for everyone to get moving together. Take walks, ride bikes, go swimming, garden or just play hide-and-seek outside. Everyone will benefit from the exercise and the time together.