September Is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Shape Your Future, a program of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), is providing free resources to educate kids and parents on making healthier choices during National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.

In Oklahoma, 1 in 3 children ages 10–17 are overweight or obese, according to the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH). Plus, we have the 7th highest high school obesity rate in the nation. Overweight and obese children are at a higher risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Childhood obesity also increases the likelihood of an individual being obese as an adult.

Unhealthy food choices and sedentary lifestyles are the main contributors to obesity. The overconsumption of sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks, juice boxes and energy drinks are also a contributor because drinks like these are loaded with sugar and empty calories.

“Childhood obesity is a common struggle for many families in our state,” said Dr. Ashley Weedn, assistant professor and director of the Healthy Future Clinic. “Parents can play a key role in helping their children learn healthy habits to prevent and reverse medical problems stemming from excess weight. Family commitment to one healthy habit at a time can help to improve their child’s health, such as drinking more water, eating a healthy breakfast, playing outside daily, preparing healthy snacks and meals (with fruits and vegetables), and limiting fast food and eating out.”

Shape Your Future provides resources to help parents and kids make the healthy choice the easy choice. Children should fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables at each meal and get 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Shape Your Future provides free resources to families in Oklahoma through kid-friendly recipes, physical activity ideas, workout plans and tips for drinking water.

“By making nutrition and activity fun, kids will be excited to make healthier choices,” said Julie Bisbee, TSET executive director. “Parents act as role models to their kids, so if the whole family starts making healthy changes together, the benefits will add up and healthier habits will be created that will last a lifetime.”

Parents and caregivers can help kids develop healthy habits by:

  • Talking to your child’s doctor about their healthiest weight and simple lifestyle changes to achieve it.
  • Thinking outside the box. Make activities at home fun by going for family walks, visiting a local park, and more! Try these creative at-home adventures.
  • Modeling healthy behaviors, like choosing water over sugary drinks. Kids often mimic what they see.
  • Reducing screen time and providing more active time. Limit screen time outside of schoolwork to no more than 2 hours a day.
  • Trying this quick tip: An easy way to eat more vegetables is to plan your meals around them.

Shape Your Future supports TSET’s mission to improve the health of every Oklahoman. TSET’s program, grant and research efforts focus on reducing the leading causes of preventable death, cancer and cardiovascular disease. TSET is focused on creating healthy environments where Oklahomans live, work, learn and play by making the healthy choice the easy choice.

For more healthy tips and resources, visit ShapeYourFutureOK.com. Connect with Shape Your Future on Facebook or Twitter to receive free tips, share photos and videos and access other exciting tools, too.