Keep military kids active, healthy
Keeping kids moving and eating right can be a tough task these days, with junk food, video games, smartphones and other distractions keeping them from maintaining those ideals.
The Defense Department wants to make sure military families lead healthy, active lifestyles because it’s critical to personal and mission readiness.
The nation’s obesity rate continues to increase. According to Barbara Thompson, the director of the Office of Family Policy/Children & Youth, 12.5 million children from the age of 2 to 19 are overweight — a figure that’s tripled since 1980 — and some of the nation’s 2 million military children fall into that group.
A child’s best example is their parents, so get out there and be an active, healthy family! Try these tips:
- Make meals together. It’s a great way to show them what it takes to make healthy choices.
- If you can’t exercise together, make sure your kids see you take the time to do it yourself. It’s all about teaching lifestyle choices.
- Set family goals for both healthy food choices and exercise.
- Do chores together, like cleaning, yard work and grocery shopping.
- If you have a bad habit (like smoking), quit it and challenge your child to give up an unhealthy habit, too.
- Obesity is preventable. Start healthy habits as early as possible, and be your child’s best role model in keeping up those habits.
- Through your local Morale, Welfare and Recreation center, you can sign your child up for swim lessons and sports leagues, as well as rent sports equipment. Also, take advantage of your installation’s bowling alley and recreation centers.
Battling weight problems
The Department of Defense has said failure to meet weight standards is a leading cause of involuntary separation from the military, and overall obesity rates can make it difficult to recruit quality personnel.
To combat the problem, the DoD launched its Healthy Base Initiative at 14 installations in 2013 to increase the health and wellness of military members, their families and civilians, as well as cut back on tobacco use.
The DoD’s 5-2-1-0 model advise military children to, on a daily basis, eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables, have two or fewer hours of screen time, get one or more hours of physical activity and drink zero sweetened beverages.
There’s also the “I Am Moving, I Am Learning” program, a departmentwide initiative that aims to increase moderate to vigorous physical activity to meet national guidelines. It focuses on improving the quality of activities facilitated by teachers and adults and improving healthy food choices for children in Head Start programs.
Farmers markets, fitness kiosks and other health initiatives have also been implemented at some installations.