In the past four decades, obesity rates in the United States have soared among all age groups. This rise in obesity rates has affected our youth in alarming fashion. Childhood obesity has increased more than fourfold among those ages 6 to 11. More than 23 million children and teenagers in the United States ages 2 to 19 are obese or overweight, a statistic that health and medical experts consider an epidemic. And this epidemic puts nearly one third of America’s children at early risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even stroke – conditions usually associated with adulthood. Even greater disparities exist among young Hispanics and children of color.
But there are opportunities every day to change these trends. And this September, there is an extraordinary opportunity to build awareness and take action – nationally, as well as in your state, city, workplace and home.
The month is what you make it
Just as we all own the problem of childhood obesity, we must all be part of the solution. There are as many approaches as there are communities, partner organizations and advocates. Are there events that can carry themes relating to healthy lifestyles? Can you use messages from the toolkit in newsletters, social media posts or letters to the editor? Are you in touch with elected officials, school leaders or others who can do more to help the effort? Healthy lifestyles—being physically active, eating sensibly and avoiding tobacco use—involves the elements of our everyday lives. So does promoting those healthy lifestyles in our communities. Wherever you are—schools, workplaces, stores, homes, anywhere—you can look for ways to tell others about maintaining individual health and making it easier for everyone to prevent and address childhood obesity. That’s the spirit of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. It’s all of us, working together and individually in whatever ways we can.