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YMCA helps families to focus on childhood obesity


September 16, 2015 | View PDF

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September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and the YMCA of Snohomish County wants local families to understand how a child's weight affects their health, and how families can adopt healthy habits.

The YMCA of Snohomish County wants families to understand how a child's weight affects their health – and how to adopt healthy habits 

September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and while the dangers of childhood obesity are well chronicled, many families need support changing their children's habits with the ultimate goal of improving health. That's why the YMCA of Snohomish County - a leading voice on improving health - wants families to understand the dangers of childhood obesity and ways to reverse course through increased physical activity and improved eating habits.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than tripled in children and adolescents over the past 30 years. Today, obesity affects one in six children and one in three are overweight, which poses greater risks for a number of health problems such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and some cancers. 

"Educating the entire family on improving healthy habits will go a long way to ending childhood obesity," said Andrea Weiler, Healthy Living Director, YMCA of Snohomish County. "Once a family understands weight-related risks, they can work together to incorporate more physical activity and healthy eating habits into their daily routines." 

The following tips are some great ways to incorporate more activity and healthier eating habits into your daily family routine:

• Eat Healthy: Make water the drink of choice (supplemented by age-appropriate portions of 100 percent fruit juices and low-fat milk) and make it easy for everyone to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables by offering two or three colorful options. Feel free to mix and match fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables to provide variety. 

• Play Every Day/Go Outside: Kids should have at least an hour a day of unstructured play outside (when possible) and break a sweat at least three times a week by getting 20 minutes or more of vigorous physical activity.

• Get Together: Eat as a family as frequently as possible with kids involved in meal preparation and clean up. In addition, adults should take a break from electronics and spend one-on-one time each day with their kids, enjoying one another's company.

• Reduce Screen Time: Time spent in front of a television, computer, tablet, cell phone or video games should be limited to two hours per day.

• Sleep Well: Kids and adults need to keep a regular sleep schedule - 10-12 hours per night for kids and seven to eight hours for adults.

To address the youth obesity epidemic, the YMCA of Snohomish County offers ACT!, a nutrition, activity, and self-improvement program for youth ages 8-11 and teens ages 12-14 and their parents. This is a community-based program for youth who are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. A YMCA Health & Well-Being Team teaches fun ways to be active, eat, and create healthy lifestyles for the whole family. To be involved in ACT!, one adult family member or guardian must participate. 

Fall ACT! classes will be offered starting in September at all five YMCA of Snohomish County family branches including Marysville. The Marysville Branch ACT! class begins Sept. 21 and is held on Mondays, 5:45-7:15 p.m.

Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. Today's families are juggling so many tasks that nutrition and exercise often take a back seat. It doesn't help that fast food and passive entertainment like video games and TV are a big part of our culture. At any age, a sedentary lifestyle can start dragging your child down, physically and emotionally.

Positive changes can make all the difference. The YMCA can help your family get active, eat well and enjoy the benefits of healthy living as a family.

ACT! is presented in partnership with the YMCA of Snohomish County, Seattle Children's Hospital, The Everett Clinic, and Providence Physicians Group.

ACT! offers well-established nutrition and exercise principles that your family can put into action right away. These new habits will enhance your child's health and strengthen family bonds. With parents taking the lead, families get motivated and enjoy results together. Research has shown that parents are often their children's most important role models. When kids see their parents enjoying healthy foods and being active, they are more likely to do the same.

To register contact the YMCA ACT! Program Manager at 360-453-2190 or visit their website at for a program brochure, information on how to enroll, and the physician referral form.


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