Eating program part of fight against childhood obesity
Like many other pediatricians, we are seeing obesity issues starting in a much younger population at our Cook Children's office in Willow Park. In Parker County, Cook Children's is taking action on this important issue. The Healthy Children Coalition for Parker County (HCCPC) has identified the need for increased focus on preventing childhood obesity in Parker County. Over 32 percent of children in Parker County are overweight or obese, and Parker County parents report that 13 percent of children do not eat healthy meals.
We know that children who are overweight or obese often continue their unhealthy habits into adulthood which may predispose them to heart disease, diabetes, and many other health problems. The HCCPC adopted “5-2-1-0 Let’s Go!” as their program to address this problem in Parker County. The evidence-based program encourages healthy nutrition and fitness in schools, after-school settings, and at home. Emphasis is placed on regular exercise and incorporating healthy foods into everyday life. HCCPC has been working with community and educational leaders to step foot into elementary schools to implement the program. Here is how it works:
5 or more fruits and vegetables
2 hours or less recreational screen time
1 hour or more of physical activity
sugary drinks, more water and low-fat milk
Several times throughout the year, HCCPC members have gone to elementary schools in Weatherford ISD to teach the 5-2-1-0 principals. The students have fun talking about ways exercise makes them feel more energized and brainstorming new ways to get moving (walking a pet, playing tag, turn on the music and dance, jump rope, play Frisbee disc). Children have also talked about the negative feelings they have when engaged in too much screen time and have talked about better ways to spend their free time (get outside, start a craft, read a book, play board games).
The students have been introduced to new creative ideas to get their 5 fruits and veggies in each day, and have been invited to participate in cooking classes to encourage healthy eating at home. We emphasize that water is the best fuel for the body and that juice often contains sugar and isn’t a healthy drink. Overall, the lessons have been received with enthusiasm by parents, teachers, and students alike.
Children take home colorful handouts with each lesson so that parents know what has been discussed. Our hope is that parents and kids can work together to make healthy changes at home that can last a lifetime. The 5-2-1-0 principal has made its way into our Cook Children’s Willow Park office as a catchy phrase to make children and adolescents aware of healthy nutrition and fitness as an important part of everyday life.