Turning the tables on Childhood Obesity Month

Let's Go! logo
In case you didn’t know it, September is National Childhood Obesity Month. When I decided to write a blog post on the topic I turned to Let’s Go! for assistance. That’s because it’s a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program.

When I heard back from Medical Director Dr. Tory Rogers, she said that she’d prefer to shift the focus to healthy eating and physical activity rather than obesity. She explained that she had started to wonder if having a whole month dedicated to obesity was a good thing. “I am worried that it might cause more stigmatization and bias toward folks with obesity,” she said.

It turns out that Heidi Kessler, the Senior Program Manager, had written a blog post on the issue a few Septembers ago. Here are some excerpts:

While the topic of childhood obesity deserves attention, Let’s Go! wants to ensure that attention is in the form of specific actions we can take to build healthy habits. Kids who carry extra weight aren’t clamoring for more attention; they don’t want to hear about Childhood Obesity Awareness Month during their school day or see commercials about it on TV.

Let’s Go!’s mission is to reduce childhood obesity rates through healthy eating and active living lifestyle changes. We want to see ALL kids and their families eating well and moving more. The majority of Americans – regardless of weight – don’t meet government recommendations for healthy eating or physical activity. Focusing on getting more physical activity, eating more fruits and vegetables, and or cutting out the soda are important lifestyle changes that can lead to a healthy weight.

Instead of Childhood Obesity Month, Let’s Go! suggests that we celebrate 5-2-1-0 month. What’s 5-2-1-0? It’s meant to be a healthy reminder of how kids (and adults) can lead healthier lives.

Poster, Fruits and veggies

5 — Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. What is a serving? For kids, it’s the size of the palm of their hand. For adults, a whole fruit the size of a tennis ball, 1/2 cup of chopped fruit or veggies, 1 cup of raw, leafy greens or 1/4 cup of dried fruits.

Poster/screen time

2 — Limit recreational screen time to two hours or less. Screen time includes time spent on TVs, computers, gaming consoles/handhelds, tablets, and smartphones.

Poster/Physical activity

1 — Get one hour or more of physical activity every day. Doing activities where you breathe hard, like fast walking, hiking, or dancing is considered moderate activity.

Poster/sugary drinks

0 — Limit or eliminate sugary drinks and choose water instead. Soda, for instance, is high in sugar and has no nutritional value. Many sodas also contain caffeine, which kids don’t need.

Courtesy: Libby & Son U Picks

So … Let’s Go! I have an idea that can get you started. Why not go apple picking? You’ll get some servings of fruit and some exercise. If you live here in Maine, click here to get my list of apple orchards in Maine that let you pick your own apples. Fun for the whole family!

Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. She now hosts and produces the Catching Health podcast and writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.