This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and Carson City Health and Human Services is focusing on helping Carson City families find ways to raise happy, healthy kids.
Currently, one in three American children is overweight or obese. These children are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, psychological problems and bullying. If we do not act, it’s estimated by 2030, the adult obesity rate in Nevada could reach 50 percent. Currently, the adult obesity rate in Nevada is just below 25 percent. This is a sobering public health issue, but by working together we can find solutions for this burgeoning health crisis.
Two Health Department programs, WIC and Western Nevada Safe Routes to School, are tackling the issue of childhood obesity head on. WIC is a supplemental nutrition program that provides nutrition education and counseling to pregnant and breastfeeding women and their children up to age 5. WIC helps provide families with the knowledge and tools they need to make healthy food decisions, like choosing low-fat milk. “Limiting saturated fat and cholesterol intake helps reduce the risk of heart disease. This is the primary reason low-fat and fat free milk is recommended — it contains all the vitamins and minerals without the fat and cholesterol,” said WIC Specialist Hazel Ruiz.
The Safe Routes to School Program aims to increase physical activity for children and families by encouraging them to participate in active transportation to and from school each day. “Walking to and from school is a fun way for kids to fit in the recommended amount of physical activity, and has also been shown to have added benefits, like improved classroom behavior and academic achievement,” said Program Coordinator Cortney Bloomer. Safe Routes to School combines education and encouragement with infrastructure improvements and law enforcement tactics to ensure children have safe places to walk, as well as knowledge of the rules of the road.
The program will sponsor an upcoming Walk to School Day throughout the region on Wednesday, Oct. 8.
Community leaders, elected officials, and health advocates from across the country are joining together to help reverse the rising rates of childhood obesity, and individuals just like you will take steps with your family, your neighbors, and your community.
Every person in the U.S. can be an important part of Childhood Obesity Awareness Month by taking small steps that add up to a big difference, like eating more balanced meals and snacks and engaging in regular physical activity.
Carson City Health and Human Services encourages you to get involved, take that first step, and join the movement.
For more information about other Health Department services, check out our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or visit us at www.facebook.com/cchhs.