Y helps families address healthy living

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By Special to the Monitor

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. The Family YMCA wants to help families understand the risks of childhood obesity and how to incorporate regular physical activity and healthy eating into their lives. 

Childhood obesity rates have soared over the last few decades. Nationally, one in three children is obese or overweight, and in New Mexico, 32.7 percent of children are affected by this epidemic, according to “F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America 2009,” a report released by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Obesity puts children at risk for chronic diseases often seen in adults, such as high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. 

“At the Y we want families to understand the risks of childhood obesity and the lifetime benefits of eating right and getting physically active,” said Linda Daly, CEO of The Family YMCA. “Small changes can make a big difference when it comes to healthy living and the Y is a great place for families to get started.”

This health crisis sheds light on the need to provide children and parents with the resources and the support they need, emphasizing that small steps can lead to sustained changes to reverse the childhood obesity trend. The following tips can help families live healthier: 

• Eat Healthy: Make water the drink of choice (supplemented by 100 percent fruit juices and low-fat milk) and have fruits and vegetables available at every meal. Snack time should include foods that contain whole grains and lean protein instead of saturated and trans fats. 

• Play every day/go outside: Kids and adults 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 physical activity. 

• Get together: At least once a day families should dine together, with kids involved in meal preparation and clean up. In addition, adults should spend one-on-one time each day with their kids.

• Reduce screen time: Time spent in front of a television, computer, cell phone and 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.

The Y offers many activities to support good health and well-being, such as camps, dance, sports, martial arts, climbing programs, and more.  

During the month of September, the Y is offering a special rate of $19.50 a month for youth ages 13-18. Scholarships are available for those on a limited budget. 

 To learn more about the Y’s youth programs, call 662-3100 or visit laymca.org.