Childhood Obesity Awareness Month
The Skagit Valley Family YMCA is joining Y’s across the country in recognizing September as Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Although this is not a new problem, it is one that continues to grow in our community. According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 in every 6 American children are obese, while 1 in 3 are overweight. In fact, obesity rates have tripled over the last three decades.
Obesity is not something to be taken likely, having been linked to various life threatening health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. A number of factors including genetics, limited access to nutritious foods and sedentary lifestyles all contribute to the development of obesity. But what can we do to address this growing epidemic?
Here at the Y, we are committed to providing families across the country with the education and resources they need to lead healthy, active lives. We believe that, by encouraging children to develop healthy diet and exercise habits, we are setting them up for a lifetime of success.
Our Bitty and Youth Sports programs provide children ages 3 and up with an introduction to sports in a structured yet non-competitive environment. A study conducted by Ohio University found that 88% of parents reported an increase in their child’s physical health when enrolled in team sports while 77% of those parents reported an increase in their child’s mental health. A non-competitive environment allows children of all ability levels to build their confidence and appreciation of the other players. In addition, involvement in youth sports has been linked to decreased rates of heart disease, diabetes and even drug usage. Children who participate in sports also exhibit higher test scores, high school graduation rates and college attendance rates on average.
Unfortunately, fees associated with sports can create a barrier for many families. A study from the Aspen Institute discovered that children from higher-income households were more than three times more likely to participate in athletics than their lower-income peers. The Y strives to break down this financial barrier, providing financial assistance so that all children have the opportunity to learn how to be healthy and active.
The fight against childhood obesity doesn’t end with physical exercise; maintaining a well-rounded diet is of equal importance for a child’s overall health. We host a number of cooking classes and events for families and children of all ages to encourage healthy eating habits. Our Little Chefs class provides an introduction to the kitchen, while our Chef Junior class gives older children the opportunity to further explore the art of cooking. Family cooking nights are an opportunity for learning and bonding while creating meals for the whole family to enjoy.
The Y is a proud supporter of healthy, happy kids and families. For more information on our programs and resources, visit www.skagitymca.org. Please contact our membership office for more information on financial assistance at 360-336-9622.