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Sep 08 2015

September is National Childhood Obesity Month – Tips for Home Visitors and Families


By, Sarah Frith Coleman, Arkansas Home Visiting Network

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Childhood obesity is a serious health issue with long-term consequences for families. In Arkansas, nearly one-third of children are classified as overweight or obese. Research has shown that children who are overweight or obese are likely to become overweight or obese adults. Obesity can increase the risk of various diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and poor bone and joint health. These diseases, typically considered adult diseases, are now increasing at alarming rates in children.

The effects of childhood obesity are being seen in our youngest children. In Arkansas, 14% of children between ages 2-4 are considered obese. Half of toddlers in the United States do not get enough physical activity.

Home visitors can encourage their families to start making small changes that can lead to big results.

  • Encourage breastfeeding. Research shows that breastfeeding may decrease the risk of childhood obesity.
  • Encourage the entire family to be more physically active. Families are encouraged to be physically active at least 30-60 minutes each day. Even basic activities like walking are considered being physically active.
  • Emphasize healthier eating habits. French fries and fruit juices are the most consumed vegetables and fruit by children. Work with your families to encourage small changes in diet, including more types of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables while eating less junk food.
  • Ask parents to allow their children less screen time. Spending large amounts of time in front of a television, computer, or phone screen can mean less physical activity. Talk with your families about screen time and possible alternative activities.

There are many resources that home visitors can use when working with their families in understanding childhood obesity, including:

  • Let’s Move, the initiative started by First Lady Michelle Obama, encourages children toward better eating habits and more physical activity. Home visitors can find simple steps that parents can take toward helping children by visiting the Let’s Move website at this link.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed a set of tips and resources for parents that can be found here.
  • The American Heart Association provides information as well as guidance for parents wanting to encourage healthier habits at home. Information can be found at this website.


Childhood obesity is a serious public health issue. Home visitors can play an important role in helping families learn healthy eating habits while encouraging physical activity for the whole family. Please share this information by using the social media links found on the left side of this blog. Home visitors are also encouraged to participate in the training module on childhood obesity through the Arkansas Home Visiting Network Training Institute. The more information is shared, the greater the impact for families!

Source: Heart.org



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