Another summer is over and both kids and parents are getting back into the swing and structure of a new school year. This is an exciting time for many kids, as they look forward to strapping on a new backpack, sharing their summer stories and connecting back with friends and teachers.
What gets left out of many conversations about youth obesity and all of the alarming statistics is that body weight is an extremely sensitive issue for both adults and children. Our environments and hectic schedules can create real challenges to maintaining a healthy weight. Along with the mark of a new school year, September is also Youth Obesity Awareness month. The timing is not accidental. What many people don’t know is that kids gain up to three times more weight during the summer holidays than during the school year. Experts point to lack of structure playing a key role with increased screen time and more access to snacks.
One of the best predictors of weight management and better lifelong health is exercise. The YMCA of Greater Boston is the starting point for many youth to learn about becoming and staying physically active, and developing healthy habits they’ll carry with them throughout their lives. And the benefits are far greater than just physical health.
Whether it’s gaining the confidence that comes from learning to swim or building the positive relationships that lead to good sportsmanship and teamwork, participating in sports at the Y is about building the whole child, from the inside out. And if parents have been thinking about starting an exercise program, now is a great time of year to build that habit and be a role model.
Joann Donnelly, MA, CHFS, BCC, Executive Director of Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Programs