PRINCETON — Every year since 2010, President Barack Obama has issued a presidential proclamation recognizing September as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.
The rise in obesity rates within the past four decades have soared among all age groups, according to the National Obesity Awareness Month website. Childhood obesity has increased more among ages 6 to 11.
As previously reported in the Bureau County Republican, Bureau/Putnam County Health Department Administrator Diana Rawlings said the average child in sixth through 12th grades in Bureau and Putnam counties is overweight or obese.
She said children being overweight or obese may have long-term effects on their lifestyle habits.
Some weight issues may lead to heart disease, diabetes, breathing programs and strains on the entire body.
The National Obesity Awareness Month website reports nearly one-third of American children are at early risk of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even strokes.
The local health department helps educate people about the problems associated with being overweight or obese. The programs are focused primarily on schools and educating children about the importance of physical activity and healthy food choices.
Princeton Elementary School District Superintendent Tim Smith confirmed within the last five years, the federal government has put their foot down on schools providing healthier food choices for students. He said changes have been made with quality and quantity of food served in the breakfast and lunch programs. Foods served in vending machines in schools have also been changed.
Aside from the food changes, schools are also keeping up with physical education requirements, and Smith said students learn and discuss the importance of making healthier food choices and good exercise in health classes.
To help spread the awareness this month or make strides to prevent childhood obesity, families can take small steps that can lead to better choices. Whether it’s purchasing more fruits and vegetables this month or planning a family walk after dinner a few times out of the week, every bit can help.
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