ROCKPORT — September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and the Penobscot Bay YMCA is reminding parents about the importance of incorporating regular physical activity and healthier eating habits into their children’s lives.
Childhood obesity rates have soared over the last few decades. Nationally, one in three children is obese or overweight, with Knox County children being affected by this epidemic at similar rates, according to Knox County Community Health Coalition. More alarming, 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. This health crisis sheds light on the need to provide children and their parents with the resources and the support they need, emphasizing that small steps can lead to big results to reverse the trend.
One key to fighting childhood obesity is prevention. Regular physical activity — 60 minutes a day for children — and nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains can lower children’s chances of becoming obese or overweight and developing chronic diseases. It’s important to note that 60 minutes of physical activity can be achieved through a number of activities throughout the entire day — it doesn’t have to be done all at once. As a leading nonprofit strengthening community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y believes that getting kids more active and allowing them to play is an important factor in improving their health.
The Penobscot Bay YMCA offers programs such as the Sailfish Swim Team and Kids Club, the Y’s after-school program. These programs have helped children integrate physical activity into daily routines and educate participants and parents on the benefits of proper nutritional habits and increased exercise.
“At the Penobscot Bay YMCA, we know that many families struggle to find the time and resources to eat healthier and set aside time for physical activity every day,” said Jasen Wood, senior program director, of the Y. “So we tailor our programs to meet the needs of families in the community to help make the healthier choice an easier choice.”
To learn more about the Penobscot Bay YMCA’s programs and services by contacting the Y at 236-3375 or by visiting the YMCA at www.penbayymca.org