As designated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), September is National Childhood Obesity Month. Nationally, roughly one in five children suffers from obesity. In central Indiana, those numbers are worse. Jump IN for Healthy Kids is focused on changing those numbers and helping children and families lead healthier lives.
Four in ten kids in central Indiana are at an unhealthy weight. That's nearly a quarter million kids, or enough to fill Lucas Oil Stadium three times.
Because of their weight, these kids are at significantly higher risk for life threatening conditions including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
How did we get here?
The causes of the obesity epidemic are numerous and complex. Food has become highly processed, calorie dense, and “super-sized.” Many families lack access to affordable, healthy food. Children have fewer opportunities to play and be active, as recess and physical education classes have been reduced or cut entirely in schools. Too many kids spend too much time sitting in front of computer screens, tablets, or smart phones. Many of them live in neighborhoods that lack safe places to play.
As a result, simply promoting public awareness and “personal responsibility” will not solve this crisis. There are no simple or one-size-fits-all solutions.
2016 Year in Review - part three in a series of four
Jump IN’s mission is to promote policies and practices that create healthy environments where families and children have real opportunities to make healthy choices and engage in healthy behaviors. Research shows that if healthy nutrition and physical activity policies can be implemented in the places where children and families spend most of their time, their health will likely improve.
In Part One of this Year in Review series we described what we did in 2016 to increase the number of healthy choices that family members have in their workplaces, schools, child care settings, and personal homes. In Part Two we described the launch of our first community demonstration project in Greater Lawrence/Far Eastside, a nationally recognized effort to employ numerous strategies across multiple sectors to increase health in a concentrated geographic region.
In this post we look at our 2016 efforts to engage and educate the larger community for the benefit of central Indiana families.
Beyond their schools, child care centers, workplaces, homes, and neighborhoods, children and families are also members of a larger community whose values, norms, and policies shape the broader environment in which these families live. For that reason, Jump IN works to influence that environment by encouraging educational conversations on healthy habits, urging the adoption of targeted public policies that promote healthy living, and fostering an overall culture of good health in the community.
New analysis supplants earlier reports of decline
While a report last year suggested that child obesity rates were starting to improve, at least among younger children, a study published last month showed “no indication of a decline in obesity prevalence...in any group of children aged 2 through 19.”