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Family Fatness vs. Family Fitness

Posted Jul 02 2009 6:00pm
I couldn't help feel a little smug while reading today's headline in our newspaper: " More Fit than Fat: State's Kids No.1." I do believe Minnesota gets a lot of things right. Neighborhood parks are one; they are everywhere. The active, outdoor culture is another. People here have bike races and golf tournaments on frozen lakes. Still, the news just after that back-slapping headline is grim: 23 out of every 100 Minnesota kids are overweight. Yikes. That's a lot. What am I proud of? We're the best of the worst?

The article stems from a report by the nonprofit, Trust for America. I learned that in Mississippi, which ranks last for childhood obesity nearly half of children there are overweight. The other shocker: childhood obesity rates have almost tripled since 1980.

But you knew this already. So did I. Because I'm writing this blog and you're reading this blog we're already working to reverse these stats, to do our part to keep our own kids healthy. But as I was walking the dog this morning I came to realize that somehow we need to extend our reach. With numbers like that we need to be fit role models, not just for our own children, but other children too.

If you have the time, energy or inclination to do something big like organize an after school fitness program, fantastic. But I think as parents we can extend that reach as fit role models in small meaningful ways that can add up. Here are my suggestions:

--If you volunteer to read a book at your child's school, read one that encourages kids' fitness.
--When kids come over to play at your house, turn off the video games and organize a game of kickball.
--Maybe your children know how to ride a bike but the kid down the street may not. Help him learn.

How else can we inspire the young community around us to be more active?
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