It is no secret that West Virginia struggles with a healthy lifestyle. In 2009, West Virginia ranked 6th in the nation for obesity. If the trends continue at this current rate, the CDC estimated that nearly half of the state’s adults will be overweight by 2018.
What does this mean for children in WV?
- According to 2007 NSCH data (National Survey of Children’s Health), 18.9% of children ages 10 through 17 in WV were obese vs. the national average of 16.4%
- In a 2008-09 evaluation performed by the WV Healthy Lifestyles Act, 18.5% of children in kindergarten were found to be obese, compared with 22% of second graders, and 29.6% of fifth graders.
- In 2009, the YRBSS (Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System) reported that 20.3% of male high school students in WV were obese.
This is alarming data, so why doesn’t this spark change in WV? I have a few thoughts:
Denial. Oblivious may be a better word. In an evaluation completed by the WV Healthy Lifestyles Act, 1500 parents and 420 students were interviewed about diet and physical activities. In Year One, 67% of parents reported being “not at all” concerned about their child’s weight. Among students, 48% were “not at all” concerned about their weight in Year One.
Parents: Are we taking this issue too lightly hoping that our kids’ weight will just work itself out?
Don’t Know How. It’s easy to tell parents to “start eating healthy,” but what does that actually look like? Let’s face it, we know more about what not to eat, than what to eat. If we’re going to promote change in WV, we have to show parents exactly what this looks like and make the process incredibly specific. There are thousands of changes you can make to raise a healthy family. That’s overwhelming to busy parents. We need to chunk this down into bite size pieces.
An incredible tool to live by is the 1% rule. If you can make a 1% improvement in your family’s habits (even each week), look at the improvement you’ll have made over an entire year.
During the month of August, I will give you one tip each week that will make the most impact on your family’s health. If you can slowly include these in your week, you will be well on your way to a healthy lifestyle.
60 minutes of physical activity per day. It’s time to get the kids out of the house. I know this is a struggle. For most of us with younger kids, the onus is on us to go outside with them or get in the car to take them to the park. We can’t rely on our schools to make this happen though, so we must make the conscious commitment to focus on this every day. The average child is watching more than 3 hours of television per day. Let’s get them off the couch and get them outside riding their bikes or playing ball.
In an evaluation completed by the WV Healthy Lifestyles Act, only 26.9% of boys reported being physically active every day for at least 60 minutes and 22.2% of girls reported daily exercise.
If you can focus on putting this single step into play, you will make significant improvements to your children’s health. 60 minutes a day…you can do it!
We have some great folks in WV working to increase our level of physical activity in WV. Check out the WV Physical Activity Plan.
See you back again next week with another healthy tip.