5 Ways to Prevent Childhood Obesity in Your Family or Community

The YMCA of Metro Chicago shared that September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and while the dangers of childhood obesity are well-chronicled, many families need support in changing their habits. That’s why the YMCA of Metro Chicago — a leading community-based organization dedicated to improving health — wants families to understand the dangers of childhood obesity and ways to reverse course through improved eating habits and increased physical activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of obesity has remained stable at about 17 percent and affects about 12.7 million children and adolescents. Today, obesity affects one in six children and one in three are overweight, which poses greater risks for many health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and some cancers. For years, parents have heard the dangers of childhood obesity but making the necessary lifestyle changes — as a family — remains the biggest barrier to real progress. Together we can learn healthy behaviors, and community-based organizations like the Y can provide a helping hand.

The Y helps families improve their health and potentially reduce the impact of childhood obesity through sports, swimming, fitness, and more. While outside support is key, developing healthy habits begin at home. The following tips are some great ways to incorporate healthier eating habits and more physical activity and into your daily family routine:

Eat & Drink Healthy: Make water the drink of choice and encourage everyone to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables by offering two or three colorful options at every meal. As a family chooses a new fruit and veggie every week to taste together. Place a full pitcher of water on the table during meals and allow children to pour their own water. Keep full water bottles available in the car and backpacks. Read more

Apple Crunch Day is Coming – Join Us!

On “Apple Crunch Day”, Healthy Lombard is encouraging everyone to crunch into an apple in a unifying action to raise awareness about eating better diets for our health and the environment, access and affordability of fruits and vegetables, and supporting local farmers.

Hundreds of thousands of school students in Illinois will crunch into an apple at lunchtime on October 11. Parents and other healthy-minded individuals will also join in the fun by crunching into an apple either in corporate cafeterias, their place of business, or at home.
Last year over 600 Lombard Elementary School District 44 and Glenbard High School District 87 students as well as parents, residents, and employees at local businesses participated.

Healthy Lombard Foundation Board President Jay Wojcik is hoping to greatly increase that number this year. “We are so grateful to Jewel/Osco on Main Street (in Lombard) who has agreed to provide District 44 students with FREE Apple Coupons,” said Wojcik. “They partnered with us in Apple Crunch Day 2017 and, now that the community is aware of this special day, we are looking forward to much more participation.”

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What Parents Need to Know about Enterovirus D68

The Center for Disease Control shared that every year, millions of children in the United States catch enteroviruses that can cause coughing, sneezing, and fever. These viruses most often spread in the summer and fall. Enterovirus D68 is one of many enteroviruses that can make people sick. Take basic steps to protect your child and others.

Infants, children, and teenagers are at higher risk than adults for getting infected and sick with enteroviruses like enterovirus D68 (EV-D68). That’s because they may not have been exposed to these types of viruses before, and they may not yet have immunity (protection) built up to fight the disease. If your child has asthma, he or she may be at greater risk for severe respiratory illness from EV-D68.

Know the Symptoms of EV-D68

EV-D68 can cause mild to severe respiratory illness.

Mild symptoms may include:

  • fever
  • a runny nose
  • sneezing
  • a cough
  • body and muscle aches

Severe symptoms may include:

  • wheezing
  • difficulty breathing

Call your child’s doctor if he or she is having difficulty breathing, if you feel you are unable to control symptoms, or if symptoms are getting worse. Your child may need to be hospitalized if he or she develops severe illness. Read more

Schools putting real ‘play’ back into playgrounds

,  EDUCATION REPORTER for The Globe and Mail shared that for 15 minutes on a blistering Wednesday afternoon, students at Chester Elementary School in Toronto were set free to run through the sprinklers in their shoes and regular clothes on the field. Others preferred to climb nearby trees or hop off an old stump to get onto the roof of the storage shed – all with the principal’s enthusiastic blessing.

It was a way to cool off or find shade on a humid day. But there was something else at play.

In an era when so many parents seem to be filling every free minute of their child’s day with organized activities – sports teams, music lessons or tutoring – a growing number of educators across the country are embracing the idea of putting unstructured play back into school playgrounds.

Raktim Mitra, an associate professor in the school of urban and regional planning at Ryerson University, said research has shown that engaging in creative and spontaneous play is important for the physical and mental well-being of children. “The idea is that when your free time is more creative and more imaginative, then you can concentrate more on the structured elements of your day,” he said.

Prof. Mitra and his colleagues have been evaluating how students fare at Chester and a handful of other Toronto schools that signed up to participate in a pilot project funded by Earth Day Canada. The charity is the only organization in Canada licensed to deliver the Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL) program, developed in Britain. It pushes to bring back unstructured play and encourage children to use all sorts of “loose parts” – spares tires, ropes, sticks, logs, and other castoffs – to build whatever comes into their heads. The program has expanded to 25 Toronto-area schools this year.

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How to help make your child a more adventurous eater

Amita Health shared in the Daily Herald Newspaper that some kids seem to eat just about everything, while others are picky eaters.

Your first concern is to make sure your children are eating a healthy, nutritious diet, of course. But what if you also would like to add a little variety to your family meals? There are several things you can do to encourage your child to be a more adventurous eater.

First, start early, according to Dr. Joni Hamilton, a pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist with Children & Teens Medical Center in Algonquin and on staff at Amita Health St. Alexius Medical Center Hoffman Estates.

“Start at a young age exposing them to different tastes and textures,” she said.

Popular “kid-friendly” meals, especially those offered by restaurants, are usually boring and rarely nutritious, and there is no need to make special meals for kids unless they have allergies or some other dietary restrictions.

“Kids can eat everything that adults can eat,” Hamilton said.

You also should include young children in meal planning and preparation, so that they feel more empowered in making their own food choices.

“From toddler age, kids can get involved in things like grocery shopping and helping to choose foods at the store. Then, while you are cooking, you can give them little chores in the kitchen like washing vegetables,” Hamilton said. Read more

Why pediatricians are prescribing play time for kids

CBS News shared that when 4-year-old Britton Taunton-Rigby recently got her yearly checkup, her pediatrician wrote a prescription for something he says is important. It reads, “Play Every Day.”

New guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends all pediatricians do the same. The organization says playing with parents and peers is a critical part of a child’s healthy development, fundamental for learning life skills and reducing stress.

“Play is not frivolous: it enhances brain structure and function and promotes executive function,” the report, published this week, states.

The AAP and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend children get one hour of physical activity per day, as well as one hour of simple, creative play.

Lead author of the report, Dr. Michael Yogman, says play often gets a bad rap as being a waste of time, which he says is highly inaccurate.

“Play is really brain building because it has all kinds of effects on brain structure and function,” he told CBS News. “Executive function skills, learning to persist on a task, learning to solve problems, learning to be flexible about how they are learning things. It’s how we learn, not what we learn.” Read more

Five simple steps to healthy kids

Lurie Children’s Hospital shared with the Daily Herald Newspaper that it’s always a good time to motivate kids to get off the couch and encourage them to be active.

The 5-4-3-2-1 Go!® Program is here to do just that. It’s the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children’s public education message to promote healthy lifestyles for families. The basics of the program are:

• 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day

• 4 servings of water a day

• 3 servings of low-fat dairy a day

• 2 or fewer hours of recreational screen time a day

• 1 or more hours of physical activity a day

Dr. Rebecca Unger, a pediatrician at Northwestern Children’s Practice, who has a special interest in the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity, was involved in the initial development of the 5-4-3-2-1 Go! message. It has been around since 2004 and promotes healthy lifestyle goals that are simple and easy to share with families.

“When developing the message, we intentionally focused on positive actions parents or caregivers can take when influencing their child to lead a healthy lifestyle,” said Unger, who also is on staff at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

“We encourage families to drink water or low-fat milk, and limit sugary beverages as much as possible,” Unger said. “Parents may think of fruit juice or sports drinks as healthy, but they are packed with sugar and calories. Sports drinks, for example, can be helpful for young athletes engaged in prolonged, vigorous physical activities to replace electrolytes, but in most cases they are unnecessary.” Read more

ParticipACTION’s 2018 Report Card on Physical Activity

Shore Broadcasting shared in the Children and Nature newsletter that new research by ParticipACTION indicates that physical activity can improve kids’ brain health by boosting both cognitive ability and mental wellness.

It’s all part of ParticipACTION’s 2018 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.

According to ParticipACTION this is the most comprehensive assessment of child and youth physical activity in Canada.

The research suggests that an active lifestyle can help release a child’s potential in several ways including performance in the classroom, problem-solving skills, and overall focus.

This Brain + Body Equation comes as no surprise to PLAY Coordinator Jason Weppler.

He says for years Play in Bruce Grey has been promoting the benefits of active children for body, mind, spirit and emotional well being.

For eleven years Bruce and Grey have been part of the PLAY movement which promotes physical activity for children to seniors.

Weppler notes Bruce Grey is one of the few regions that still carry the PLAY torch, he says this just goes to show the strong commitment and partnerships there are local to promoting a healthy lifestyle. Read more

3 Back-to-School Tips for Parents

Nicole Greene, Acting Director, Office on Women’s Health shared that back-to-school time is here! A new school year is a fresh start for our kids. Maybe yours are finishing up their summer reading lists, practicing for a new sports season, or picking out a new planner to help them stay organized. No matter how our kids are preparing, as parents, there are steps we can take to help set them up for a healthy, successful year. (Some of these steps can make a difference in our health and wellness, too!) So, let’s give ourselves a little bit of homework. Try adding these three ideas to your back-to-school list to ensure your kids have their healthiest year yet.

  1. Make sure your children’s vaccines are up to date. Vaccines help keep our kids — and those around them, including you — stay healthy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccines can help protect infants, children, and teens from 16 serious diseases. Kids get many of these important vaccines when they’re little, but our preteens and teens need vaccines, too. For example, they need a yearly flu shot as well as vaccines that can help prevent meningitiswhooping cough, and HPV infections that cause cancer. Talk to your child’s doctor or nurse to make sure they’re up to date on their vaccines.

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Let’s Garden Together


College of DuPage Nursing Student  Rhiannon Gibson shared that community gardening can be fun and beneficial to your physical as well as mental health. Community gardening also gives people access to fresh fruits and vegetables while providing accurate information about growing and taking care of the plants. The community garden doesn’t just have to be used for fruits and vegetables, it can be a place where you plant flowers or create rock designs for everyone to enjoy.

While the fruits and vegetables provide a benefit to physical health, a community garden offers enhanced benefits such as, the opportunity to get out of the house and socialize with the people of your community; the community garden is beneficial for walks or just sitting and enjoying nature.

The simple act of gardening can be therapeutic by taking your mind off disturbing thoughts and the physical work involved can help to focus and facilitate relaxation.

Everyone can enjoy the community garden! Even those individuals with health or developmental impairments. In a journal article, It’s not therapy, it’s gardening, the authors suggest that in the garden, “solace safety and comfort were still experienced by people,  Read more