Fitness Articles

SparkPeople Needs Your Help Tackling Childhood Obesity

Take Action to Improve Kids' Health

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Editor's Note: SparkPeople first asked for your help in fighting childhood obesity a few years ago, but with the recent launch of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign to combat childhood obesity, we updated this article and added additional resources.

Turn on the news any night of the week, and you're likely to see a story about one of the many discouraging trends that contribute to the prevalence of overweight and obese children. As a result, parents, teachers, and other mentors have been looking for ways to get their kids off of the couch and playing outside, and persuade their teens to reach for an apple instead of a candy bar.

SparkPeople.com wants to help you find solutions to keeping your kids healthy and active. With millions of parents visiting SparkPeople each month, we're uniquely qualified to work with our members to tackle this problem head on! Kids can learn from the healthy habits you are adopting on SparkPeople, and your choices can end up impacting the health of your entire family!

To tackle the childhood obesity epidemic, we started a Kids' Health SparkTeam for parents, teachers and everyone else interested in helping us lead the fight for kids health and against childhood obesity. With more than 45,000 members, this is a place to share strategies that will get kids excited about exercise; ask others what's working for their kids; and get ideas to improve the health of the children in your life. By starting small and building momentum as the Team grows, we can make a big difference!

So why do we need your help? We spend $150 billion each year on obesity-related ailments each year, according to the government, and for the first time in our history, American children may face a shorter expected lifespan than their parents. 

A 2007 Associated Press article revealed that the federal government spent $1 billion on nutrition education that year but that these education programs rarely change the way kids behave in the long-term:
  • A review of 57 trials (funded by the federal government) aimed at changing kids eating habits found that only 4 had successful results.
     
  • One program that rewarded children for eating fruits and vegetables was successful in the short-term. But after the program ended, researchers found that kids went back to eating what they had before.
     
  • Another study of 8 to 12-year-olds showed that kids see an average of 21 television ads each day for candy, snacks and other unhealthy foods. Only one of every 50 ads promoted healthy foods.
After reading such results, it's easy to get discouraged, but many other studies conclude that parents who successfully change their own attitudes and behaviors can dramatically increase the chances of changing their kids' habits too! Experts agree that parents influence what their kids eat and how much they exercise more than anyone else. Now, with the launch of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move initiative to combat childhood obesity, which is uniting federal, state and local governments, along with the nonprofit and business sectors, there is even more hope than ever. SparkPeople can't wait to see what our members and experts can do to help! 

So are you ready to join us in the fight? Are you ready to make a difference in the health of the young people in your life? Let's do it! Join the Team today!
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About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is an ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, medical exercise specialist and behavior change specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

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