Children Encouraged To ‘Get Active. Eat Right. Be Healthy”

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By Ronald G. Rios
Middlesex County Freeholder
Chairperson Committee of Public Health and Education

October is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and I would like to urge all parents to educate themselves about this dangerous epidemic. Please take time to emphasize the importance of good nutrition at home.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the results of a recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey estimated that 17 percent of children and adolescents are overweight. Even more discouraging, New Jersey currently has the second highest state obesity rate (17.9 percent) among low-income, pre-school aged students.

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With numbers this high, we really need to consider the increased risks our children and adolescents could face as adults. Overweight children have an increased chance of becoming overweight adults and can be faced with a future of potentially dangerous health problems, such as elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.

The most effective way to prevent and treat childhood obesity is to adopt healthier habits at home. Limit television and video time to a maximum of two hours per day, encourage at least an hour of exercise a day and teach your children to make better food choices.

Have them choose fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks instead of sugary sweets. Children can also help prepare meals and shop with you so that they can be invested in making their own healthy choices.

To raise awareness of this problem the Middlesex County Public Health Department and I are sponsoring the “Get Active. Eat Right. Be Healthy.” poster contest for all Middlesex County public and non-public school students in grades 3 through 6.  Twelve winning entries will be printed in a 2010 calendar that will be distributed throughout the county.

In addition, Elks lodges located in the county will be providing $50 U.S. Savings Bonds to the winners.

I encourage Middlesex County schools and classrooms to participate. Call Teri Manes at 1-732-745-8861 or e-mail at teri.manes@co.middlesex.nj.us for more information.

The Health Department also offers programs designed to teach basic nutrition concepts and exercise.  To request a health education program for your school, group or workplace, contact the Middlesex County Public Health Department’s Health Education Division at 1-732-745-8860.

To download copies of the department’s Obesity Program Guide or tip sheets on healthier living, visit http://co.middlesex.nj.us/publichealth/hot-topics.asp and scroll down to the “Combating Obesity for a Healthier Middlesex County” section.  For additional information on childhood obesity: http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/obesity/.


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