Make New Year’s resolutions as a family at the YMCA

imagesChildhood obesity is a widespread problem deeply rooted in the lifestyles of families in Harris County, and educating parents and family members about nutrition is key, reports CHILDREN AT RISK.

Aware of this need, the Vic Coppinger Family YMCA in Pearland will begin offering the program Healthy Weight and Your Child in January as a fresh way to begin the new year. The program is designed to empower children between the ages of 7-13, with support from their families, to reach a healthy weight and live a healthier lifestyle.

Participants spend two hours a week at the YMCA learning about nutrition and goal setting and playing games that keep them active. In a peer-supported environment, kids and their parents learn about portion control, how to read food labels, and even take a tour of a grocery story for smart shopping tips.

“The YMCA has a long history of advancing the health and well-being of children and families in Pearland,” said Lharissa Jacobs, director of Community Health for the YMCA of Greater Houston. “Helping children reach a healthy weight is important now more than ever. Healthy Weight and Your Child emphasizes behavioral changes to support healthy eating and physical activity.”

Parent Amanda Torres and her 11-year-old daughter Amber signed up for the program last year and are raving over the results. “We loved that we could be ourselves and not be judged,” Torres said. “My daughter has learned more about reading food labels before we buy things at grocery store. It has helped our whole family eat clean. We eat less junk food and are getting healthy.”

CHILDREN AT RISK reports that that today’s obese children are poised to triple Texas’ current adult obesity rate by 2040, and obesity-related expenses are projected to skyrocket. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that obesity affects 17 percent of all children and adolescents in the country – triple the rate from just one generation ago. Today, one in six children are living with obesity and one in three are overweight, posing greater risks for Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and mental health issues.

Healthy Weight and Your Child is a year-long, evidence-based program that engages a child and an adult together so they can understand how the home environment and other factors influence choices that lead to a healthy weight. Made up of groups of 10 to 15 child and adult pairs, the program creates a safe, fun and active environment for participants to explore and adopt proven methods to living a healthier lifestyle.

To participate in the program, each child must be between the ages of 7 and 13, have a body mass index greater than or equal to the 95th percentile for the child’s gender and age, be cleared by a health care provider and be accompanied by an adult to every session.

In addition to available scholarships, each family receives a free, 6-month citywide membership to the YMCA of Greater Houston through generous funding of the United Way of Brazoria County.

Registration is open now and will continue until February. Bilingual instructors are available.

The YMCA of Greater Houston is one of 19 YMCAs in the nation to offer this program.

For more information, email healthy.kids@ymcahouston.org or call 713-759-9172.

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