Especially in Oklahoma. Today, 17.3% of the state’s youth are obese or overweight. Obese children are more likely to be obese as adults, which places them at increased risk for a variety of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer and osteoarthritis.

A major contributor to the obesity problem is drinking sugary beverages like soda, sports drinks, juice boxes and energy drinks, which are loaded with sugar and empty calories. One 12-oz. soda contains up to 10 packets of sugar—that’s more sugar than three glazed donuts. A 12-oz. glass of sweet tea has more sugar than 28 gummy bears. When children consume sugary drinks and eat unhealthy foods, their risk of obesity skyrockets.

Take a look at these other alarming stats.

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September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. The goal is to build awareness of the childhood obesity epidemic and to motivate communities, organizations, families and individuals to live healthier lives. From schools and childcare providers to organizations and individuals, all members of the community can fight childhood obesity and help the next generation of Oklahomans secure a healthier future.

Fighting Childhood Obesity
One way kids can improve their health is to eat better and choose healthy, hydrating water over sugary drinks. Another way is to get active. Children need to move for 60 minutes every day…and when it comes to physical activities for kids, the options are endless. From indoor activities like jumping jacks and couch-cushion obstacle courses to outdoor games for kids like soccer and basketball, there are a variety of ways for your kids and the whole family to get active.

It’s important to note that physical activity alone cannot overcome the negative health effects caused by sugary drinks and unhealthy food. Aside from being physically active for 60 minutes every day, children must also eat better by filling half their plates with fruits and vegetables, and they should choose water over sugary drinks, and always be tobacco free. By increasing the awareness and prevention of childhood obesity, we can foster healthier habits and longer lives for the next generation of Oklahomans.

Here are some more creative physical activity ideas for kids:

1. H-O-R-S-E
Grab the basketball and shoot for some physical activity with a game of H-O-R-S-E. You can also play P-O-N-Y for a shorter game, or S-T-A-L-L-I-O-N for a longer one.

2. Wiffleball Homerun Derby
Invite neighbors and friends over and have a contest to see who can hit the most dingers. Whoever isn’t batting can shag balls or try to keep homeruns from going over the fence.

3. Football Soccer
It’s just like soccer…except you have to kick around a regular football.

4. Sponge Toss
Use chalk to draw targets on the driveway. Then, from across the driveway, toss wet sponges and try to score points by landing them in the target. Get max points by landing them in the bull’s eye.

5. Flashlight Tag
Wait until dark, then let your health shine with a game of flashlight tag. You can even invite the whole neighborhood to play.

By increasing the awareness and prevention of childhood obesity, we can foster healthier habits and longer lives for the next generation of Oklahomans. So encourage your kids to choose water over sugary drinks, fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables and be sure they get 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

Find tons of easy-to-make, healthy recipes—including delicious infused water recipes—and dozens of physical activity ideas for kids at ShapeYourFutureOK.com.