Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Help Prevent Childhood Obesity
SANTA FE, NM — The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) recognizes September as ‘National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month’ and promotes healthy eating and active living strategies for families, schools, and communities to work together to help prevent childhood obesity.
“Helping our kids get and stay healthy and fit allows them to build a stronger foundation to succeed in school and life,” Governor Susana Martinez said. “We’re making encouraging progress, but there’s much more work to be done to help more of our kids eat healthy and get active.”
Through initiatives like Healthy Kids Healthy Communities and others, the Department of Health works with families, schools, communities and kids throughout the state to help fight childhood obesity. Since the launch of Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities in 2011, obesity among third graders in New Mexico has declined by 14 percent.
“The good news is that childhood obesity can be prevented,” said NMDOH Cabinet Secretary Lynn Gallagher. “We are committed to building stronger and healthier families and to improving the quality of life for New Mexicans – especially for our younger generations. We must keep doing all we can to help our children establish healthy behaviors and create a foundation for healthy lifestyles in our state for years to come.”
One in 3 children in New Mexico is overweight or obese. Childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems that were once seen only in adults, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Healthy Kids Healthy Communities program opportunities include improving regular access to fruit and vegetable snacks, classroom tastings, and offering more salads at mealtime, as well as increased access to physical fitness before, during, and after school. Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities serves 15 counties and 5 tribal communities, reaching over 46,500 children (30% of NM public elementary school population).
NMDOH urges New Mexico families to make healthy changes together; taking small steps as a family can help your child stay at a healthy weight:
Get active outside – walk around the neighborhood, go on a bike ride, or play basketball at the park;
Limit screen time – keep screen time (time spent on the computer, watching TV, or playing video games) to 2 hours or less a day;
Make healthy meals – serve more vegetables, fruit, and whole-grain foods; and
Drink lots of water – water is calorie-free and a healthier option than juice or soda. Plus, staying hydrated is important for your health, especially when you’re active outside.
For more information, see the New Mexico Childhood Obesity Update 2016.