Georgia parents, get ready for some good news. New research from the Centers for Disease Control shows childhood obesity rates on the decline in 18 states. Although 1 in 8, or around 12 percent, of preschoolers is obese, the numbers are falling in many areas. Georgia saw a small decline of about one percent, indicating that there is still much progress to be made to ensure the wellness of children in the state.
Recent Studies Show Childhood Obesity Epidemic Declining
The authors cite several factors that may have helped contribute to the declines:
- updates to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC);
- new nutrition and physical activity standards for early child care programs; and
- increased support for breastfeeding mothers.
Promising research suggests that low-income children have demonstrated the most progress toward healthier BMIs, a sign that existing programs are resulting in positive change.
West Georgia’s effort to improve children’s health
Current initiatives are beginning to show marked benefits, including measures implemented through nationwide Community Transformation Grants. West Georgia was awarded one such grant in 2012 through the Community Benefit department of Tanner Health System.
The Get Healthy, Live Well program received $1.2 million to improve access to healthy foods for children and families, increase physical activity time in schools and child care centers, implement wellness training for teachers and child care workers, encourage breastfeeding for all new mothers, and build community partnerships to promote healthy lifestyle choices in Carroll, Haralson and Heard counties.
Get Healthy, Live Well and community task force members are working to improve the health of children in west Georgia by:
- training area teachers in Take 10! physical fitness curriculum
- encouraging schools to install salad bars and serve more nutritious foods in cafeterias
- installing community gardens in several area parks
- offering Cooking Matters classes to low income families
- implementing SNAP food stamp acceptance at area farmers markets
These initiatives are being implemented throughout 2013-14. Volunteers are welcome to join the efforts at any time. For more information on how you can help, check out the Get Involved page.
What kinds of changes can you make?
The study focused on a combination of cultural and individual factors that are leading the decrease in childhood obesity. Some of the most effective interventions can be made by parents in the home. They include:
- Serve fruits and vegetables and other nutritious foods for meals and snacks.
- Be role models by eating healthy meals and snacks with preschoolers.
- Make water easily available throughout the day.
- Limit the time preschoolers watch TV or use the computer in child care and the home.
- Support and encourage preschoolers to be physically active every day.
Be a part of the solution
If you are interested in supporting the efforts to improve children’s health in west Georgia, there are many opportunities to join the cause. Find out more at http://www.GetHealthyLiveWell.org or visit the Get Healthy Live Well Facebook page to learn about upcoming events and programs in west Georgia.