News & Events | YMCA of South Hampton Roads
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August 30, 2017

Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Childhood Obesity Awareness Month—the Y is here to support the cause.

As part of our cause to strengthen the foundations of our community by increasing the number of healthy families, the Y is committed to preventing and combating childhood obesity. The childhood obesity rate has more than tripled since the 1970s. In January 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 1 in 5 school-age children has obesity. The Y has been actively working to prevent childhood obesity for years, formally launching the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards in 2011 across thousands of Y family centers nationwide.

The HEPA standards educate children and parents about making healthy choices to create lifelong nutrition and exercise habits. All Y after-school programs implement HEPA standards, providing healthy snacks, incorporating a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity daily, and teaching children about nutrition through fun activities like cooking and gardening.

The HEPA standards, listed below, are a core component of the Y’s after-school program:

  • Role modeling: Y staff will model healthy eating and active living.
  • Family engagement: Throughout the school year, the Y will engage parents and caregivers through informational materials or activities focused on healthy eating and physical activity.
  • Physical activity: Ensure children engage in a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity daily.
  • Screen time: Eliminate screen time for children under two years of age, and limit screen time for children older than two to no more than 30 minutes.
  • Food: Serve fruits or vegetables at every meal and snack, emphasize whole grains and foods free of sugar as one of the first three ingredients, and eliminate fried and pre-fried foods, and those with partially hydrogenated oils.
  • Beverages: Make water the beverage of choice at all meals and snacks.

By following these standards, the Y is actively striving to reduce youth obesity as part of its emphasis on the holistic development of school-age children. For parent Kesha McDuffie at the Effingham Street Family YMCA in Portsmouth, the Y’s after-school program provides her peace of mind that her daughter’s physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional needs are being met. When you give to the Y, you support our efforts to build strong kids, strong families, and strong communities. To learn more about Kesha’s story, watch her video here.

The YMCA of South Hampton Roads is dedicated to putting Judeo-Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.