Over the last decade, the prevalence of childhood obesity has steadily increased. Today, one out of every three American adolescents is overweight or obese – nearly triple the rate in 1963. Childhood obesity has a huge impact on the health and well being of children, and often leads to serious physical and psychological issues. Children who are overweight or obese have an elevated risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and type-2 diabetes earlier in life. The psychological effects that can accompany these health problems include low self-esteem, negative body image, and depression. It is important to intervene with children who are overweight or obese in the early stages since overweight kids have a 70-80% chance of staying overweight into adulthood dramatically increase their risk factors for developing chronic illnesses.
The start of a new school year is the time to focus on creating a healthy, nutritional routine for your child. Build a strong nutrition structure at home by serving regular, balanced meals and snacks, allowing children to use their own internal signals to indicate fullness, getting them involved in nutrition, and making family meals times a priority. Breakfast is an essential part of every day and is particularly important for school children. Research shows that breakfast eaters have higher school attendance, score higher on tests, concentrate better, and are better problem solve problems. Have your kids help pick what they will be eating, help you cook meals or grocery shop with you to pick out healthy foods for their school lunches and family meals. Family meals are great because they foster family unity as well as improve nutrition.
MANNA supports healthy nutrition in children by providing our home-delivered meal program and nutrition education services for adolescents. While the majority of MANNA clients may not be children, there is no age restriction for the meal program. If a child is battling a serious illness, such as obesity, MANNA can assist with their healthy eating practices and weight loss efforts by providing our home-delivered meals. MANNA also supports our adult clients who have dependent children under the age of 18 by sending meals for the entire family, ensuring that the client has the best chance of recovering from their illness.
On September 26th, MANNA will be hosting the Nourish Awards. Established in 2010 as a way to celebrate the champions of health care and nutrition, this year MANNA will be recognizing the Einstein Healthcare Network, SHARE food program, and the Campbell Soup Foundation. All three of these organizations have developed programs to better the lives of children across America while fighting childhood obesity at the same time and are worthy of this esteemed award. For more information on the programs that they provide and on the Nourish Awards & Health Symposium, visit MANNA’s website at Nourish.