September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, an initiative to help bring attention to the issue of childhood obesity that has grown over the past several decades in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. By recognizing and addressing this problem, we can help steer future generations down a healthier path and away from an increased risk of serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer.
How is childhood obesity measured? Body mass index (BMI) is calculated using a child’s weight and height; the result classifies each person into a percentile specific to their age and gender. Children are considered obese if their BMI is at or above the 95th percentile. In 2011, Massachusetts school districts began conducting BMI screenings of students as a tool for nurses to help monitor their health. This information is communicated to parents or guardians in hopes of encouraging a healthy lifestyle for their children and reducing the risk of future health problems.
Make sure your child eats well-balanced meals with plenty of fruits and vegetables both at home and at school; replace sugary drinks with water or low-fat milk. Childhood obesity is likely to lead to obesity in adulthood, so teaching smart eating habits at a young age is crucial.
- You can consult this Daily Food Plan online tool to see how much of each food group you or your children need each day.
- Massachusetts is working to improve nutrition in schools by setting nutrition standards for food and drink provided to students during the school day.
Children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity or active play each day. In addition to the national Let’s Move! initiative established by First Lady Michelle Obama, Massachusetts is working with schools and communities to help encourage children to be active.
- The MA Children at Play program provides child care facilities statewide with resources to help improve their nutrition and physical activity policies.
Mass in Motion is a statewide initiative that works with communities, schools, and childcare centers to make it easy for people to eat right and stay active. Through educational programs, state regulations, and grants, the program addresses this public health concern by encouraging healthy decision-making. Thanks to federal funding, the program has grown over the last five years to fund 33 programs in 52 cities and towns across the state, helping to make positive changes for a brighter and healthier future.
SNAP Benefits Welcome at Many Massachusetts Farmers’ Markets posted on Jul 21
Crates of sweet cantaloupe, juicy tomatoes, and fresh potatoes — the buzz of a farmers’ market on a sunny afternoon. What could be better? Shopping at farmers’ markets is a fun way to stock up on nutritious, locally grown food. Through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program …Continue Reading SNAP Benefits Welcome at Many Massachusetts Farmers’ Markets
Workers’ Rights in Massachusetts: Workplace Discrimination & Harassment posted on Jul 19
This is the final post in the Workers’ Rights blog series, which has covered workplace safety, fair wages, workplace benefits, workers’ compensation, and workplace discrimination and harassment in Massachusetts. In 2015, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) received more than 2,400 complaints about discrimination at …Continue Reading Workers’ Rights in Massachusetts: Workplace Discrimination & Harassment
Hurricane Preparedness: Be Ready Before the Storm posted on Jul 14
This is a guest blog post from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). Massachusetts is vulnerable to tropical storms and hurricanes — and the damage they cause. Our last two major storms were Hurricane Bob in 1991 and Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. Although the …Continue Reading Hurricane Preparedness: Be Ready Before the Storm