Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and as kids go back to school, health officials are asking parents to make sure their youngsters stay fit during the school season.
Over the last 40 years, obesity rates in children have skyrocketed. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, more than 23 million children and teens in the U.S., ages two to 19, are overweight or obese. These children are at greater risk of having heart problems, joint pain, sleep apnea, and psychological problems.
So, as school starts, health officials are suggesting ways to make sure your child has a healthy school year.
During the summer, many kids get out and play, but as classes begin, they tend to sit more. Fitness experts recommend you make sure to let your children play at least 30 minutes to an hour after they get home from school – and that doesn’t mean in front of a TV. That means getting out and moving. Also, pack a healthy lunch and if your kids buy lunch, stress the importance of eating a well balanced meal, which most schools now provide. Donuts and soda are not lunch.
Take your child for a physical and know their body mass index, which indicates if they’re overweight.
If they’re participating in a sport, make sure they get the okay from their doctor that they’re healthy enough to participate.
And wherever possible, have your children walk to school and other activities. Studies show kids who walk are leaner and fitter than those who take the bus or are driven everywhere.