Every generation falls prey to a new health risk -- polio, tuberculosis, AIDs -- and the present generation is no exception. Unfortunately, the major health risk of this generation isn’t an unseen germ or virus making its way through the blood stream. The health enemy of this generation is one of our making. Born during the “would-you-like-to-super-size-that-for-just-twenty-more-cents” request at the local fast food drive-thru, coupled with drastic changes to a more sedentary life style, more than just the meal has become supersized.
A health crisis of our own making, obesity is now reaching out and not only impacting adults, but our children as well. More than 17 percent of all children are currently obese, with another 15 percent considered overweight, potentially increasing their risk of very adult diseases such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. It’s generally accepted that we need to do something about the rising numbers, but for parents the question of where to start can be overwhelming. How do you teach children and to be healthy when it comes to diet and weight and physical activity without giving your 10 year old a diet complex?
Fortunately, help is available for parents, educators, and anyone else interested in reversing this trend. One such program is Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition, better known as We Can!
A national movement, We Can! is unique because all four institutes which make up the National Institutes of Health -- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Cancer Institute -- have combined resources to create a unique program designed to help improve nutrition, fitness levels, reduce obesity levels, and improve future health outlooks in children between the ages of 8 and 13.
To help make the mission of We Can! a success, the program addresses topics ranging from diet, nutrition, weight management, increasing physical activity in children, to reducing time in front of the TV or computer. Program materials are specifically geared for use by parents although specific training and resource materials which target health care professionals are also available. Some of the many resources include parent guides, tip sheets, online training, activities, toolkits, banners, recipes, links to additional resource, community program information, and much more. The price is right for program materials since most material is offered free of charge. In addition, much of the material is also available in Spanish. In addition, We Can! is partnered with numerous corporate sponsored and has more than 1,510 We Can! sites. The program recently expanded and is now available in 12 countries.
For more information on the We Can! program, visit their website at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/wecan/about-wecan/index.htm.
Teaching Children Heart Healthy Habits. EmpowHER.com. https://www.empowher.com/obesity/content/teaching-children-heart-healthy-habits
FastStats, Obesity and Overweight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 18 Jun. 2010. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/overwt.htm
About We Can. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/wecan/about-wecan/index.htm.
Reviewed August 15, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Jody Smith