(New York) September 6, 2011 — In honor of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a national nonprofit founded by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation to end childhood obesity, will spotlight the success of kids, schools and communities across the country working to increase physical activity and improve nutritious eating for kids. With the help of national celebrities, media organizations and kids themselves, the Alliance will elevate the issue of childhood obesity, showcase positive transformations happening around the country, and offer information to help anyone join the effort and be a part of the solution.
Childhood obesity is a national epidemic. Nearly one in three children and youth ages 2 &Ndash; 19 in the U.S. is already overweight or obese and some experts believe that if obesity among kids continues to increase at this rate the current generation could become the first in American history to live shorter lives than their parents.
“The obesity epidemic in the United States is one of the biggest threats to our children’s well-being, and their potential for long-term success,” said President Clinton. “This is a problem that can be solved and it is everyone’s responsibility to make small, measurable changes in these children’s lifestyles so they can live long, healthy lives.”
The Alliance works to positively affect the places that can make a difference to a child’s health: including homes, schools, doctor’s offices and communities. The Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program works with more than 12,000 schools in the U.S. to help them transform their campuses into healthier places where students and staff have access to physical activity and healthier foods before, during and after school. For National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, the Alliance will showcase success stories of schools across the country. National celebrities will help raise awareness of the positive changes happening in schools by making special appearances at award-winning schools in the Alliance program.
“Over the past five years we have seen improvements in physical activity and healthy eating in schools across the country,” said Ginny Ehrlich, CEO of the Alliance. “These schools deserve recognition for transforming their school environments by adding physical activity opportunities for kids, making school meals healthier and making health education a priority.”
Parents can help reinforce and influence positive changes in the school setting as well as serve as healthy role models for kids. Five steps parents can take to cultivate a healthier lifestyle for their kids include:
- Be a Healthy Role Model: Parents are key role models for their children and when young people see adults making a sincere effort to improve their habits, they start to realize that eating healthy and staying physically active is important.
- Make Healthy Schools the Norm: Schools are an essential setting for establishing healthy eating and daily physical activity as the norm. Parents can urge school leaders to make health a priority and to join the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program at no cost.
- Ask the Family Doctor Key Questions: Parents can ask their health providers for advice on a how to ensure that kids eat better and move more. Healthcare providers can be a powerful ally in the effort to keep kids healthy and fit.
- Instill Healthy Values in Kids: Keep it positive. Getting healthy is something to be excited about — and it should not feel like a chore or a punishment. If parents about the importance of eating right, staying active and being healthy in an empowering way, kids will start on the road towards a lifetime of healthy habits.
- Make a Commitment to Health: Don’t try to overhaul everything at once, but make a commitment to implement gradual changes to family meals and physical activity patterns will make a difference.
“Small behavior changes can lead to big improvements in your level of heart health,” said Dr. Gordon Tomaselli, president of the American Heart Association and director, division of cardiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. “With the prevalence of obesity in children ages 6 to 11 on the rise, maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular physical activity becomes even more important to ensure a child’s healthy future.”
Throughout the month of September the Alliance will share daily tips on its Facebook page to help individuals stay on track with their commitment to help end childhood obesity through National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. The Alliance’s website, www.HealthierGeneration.org, will also feature weekly messages from kids and youth champions about the importance of reversing and ending the childhood obesity epidemic.
More information, including details on how your local school can join the more than 12,000 schools in the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program, are available online at www.HealthierGeneration.org and at www.Facebook.com/HealthierGeneration.
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