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Program works to
cure childhood obesity

 

By Melissa Robinson
Contributing Editor 

  In an effort to address the epidemic of childhood obesity, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has initiated a wellness program available to the schools partnering with Kohl’s Department Store as part of its Strong4Life campaign. In Henry County, the Kohl’s Healthy Halls School Wellness Program came to two elementary schools, visiting Cotton Indian Elementary and Bethlehem Elementary this past spring.

A group of students watches a performance about the four healthy habits Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Strong4Life program promotes.    File photos

  The Kohl’s Healthy Halls School Wellness Program is a way to teach nutrition and physical activity to elementary school children by focusing on the Strong4Life healthy habits. The Strong4Life program promotes four healthy habits: make half your plate fruits and vegetables; be active for 60 minutes every day; drink more water and reduce sugary drinks; limit screen time to one hour a day.

  The free program is available to schools and includes an engaging performance by a professional theater group, take home materials on healthy topics for students and parents and follow-up resource materials for the school.

  According to many experts, childhood obesity has become a national epidemic. The state of Georgia has the second highest child obesity rate in the country with nearly 40 percent of Georgia’s kids classified as overweight or obese. This, according to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, who after studying the problem of childhood obesity launched the Strong4Life initiative to help families get healthier.

  Childhood obesity and carrying too much weight can affect more than self-esteem and good results in gym class. Doctors are now seeing diseases in children that were typically only seen in adults, such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

  “Georgia has nearly a million children at risk for health issues rooted in childhood obesity,” said Dr. Stephanie Walsh, Medical Director of Child Wellness for Children’s Health-care of Atlanta. “Additionally, according to the Department of Public Health, school aged kids are in poor physical shape, with a significant percentage unable to perform basic movements like touching their toes or push-ups.  This is something that has been 30 years in the making and we must make it a priority in order to change the future of Georgia's kids.”

  Walsh said the best way to approach the issue of weight with a child is to actually discuss what they can help control, such as getting healthy.

  “At Strong4Life we don’t talk to kids and parents about weight, but instead about things they are in control of, like getting healthy, building healthy habits, family participation, fun activities, simple goals, and change,” said Walsh. “It may surprise parents to know that having ‘The Talk’ actually starts with them, as they are the ones making the most decisions for their family, but before ever talking to their children, parents should begin by having a talk with themselves about choices they are making at home when it comes to their family's health and the health habits of their family and about what kinds of role models they are for their kids. We know that this is an important topic, but one that can often be intimidating, which is why we created a whole section of Strong4Life .com around ‘The Talk’ for parents to reference when they are ready.”

  Walsh recognizes that families are busy and often bound by specific constraints. She said that the Strong4Life campaign is geared toward busy families who really want to make a conscious effort to improve the whole family’s overall health and wellness, and she urges parents to take the first step by consulting with their pediatrician or family physician.

  “We know that parents want to do what's best for their family but we recognize that change is hard.  Parents are often dealing with issues like limited time and tight budgets, but before people are ready to change, they must first identify the issue in their home. Strong4Life meets families where they are in their journey. From parents who know their family needs to change but don't feel they can do it alone, to those who feel overwhelmed in their ability to make change happen and finally to the parents who need to be reminded of the importance of parental role modeling when it comes to teaching their child healthy behaviors at home, we meet families where they are.”

  Dr. Walsh provides medical counsel for Strong4Life, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Wellness Movement. She assists in the implementation of Strong4Life Programs and writes her own blog, Healthy Dose, to reach families across Georgia and beyond.

  For more information on the Strong4Life movement, visit www.strong4life.com

  For information on bringing the Kohl’s Healthy Halls School Wellness Program to your school, contact Laura Turner, Community Outreach Liaison for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, at 404-201-0822 or at laura.turner@choa.org.

 

 

©Henry County Times, Inc.