Obesity is a growing problem that now affects one in five children in the United States. Local policies, living conditions, and environments influence daily choices that affect the health of our youth.
Youth who live in unsafe neighborhoods may be restricted to watching TV or browsing the internet indoors instead of playing outside after school. Many families lack the resources to get youth involved in physical activity. Families living in neighborhoods zoned exclusively for residential use must drive to work and school because it is too far to walk or bike. Many communities lack full-service grocery stores and neighborhood food markets causing less access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Furthermore, policies that establish physical activity requirements and nutrition standards in schools and community clubs can promote healthy living and wellbeing. We must encourage youth to change their physical and food environments to provide more access to healthy food and physical activities more frequently.
The following resources may be useful for parents or educators who are working with youth to prevent or address problems with obesity:
- The CDC Guide to Strategies to Increase Physical Activity in the Community- This guide provides guidance for program managers, policy makers, and others on how to select strategies to increase physical activity in the community. It offers the most relevant information on each type of strategy. The discussion of each strategy follows the outline defined here. This resource was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Take Charge of Your Health: A Guide for Teenagers- A booklet from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases that is designed to help teenagers take small and simple steps to keep a healthy weight. It provides basic facts about nutrition and physical activity, and offers practical tools to use in everyday life, from reading food labels and selecting how much and what foods to eat, to replacing TV time with physical activities.
- Recommended Community Strategies and Measurements to Prevent Obesity in the United States- This guide contains 24 recommended obesity prevention strategies focusing on environmental and policy level change initiatives that can be implemented by local governments and school districts to promote healthy eating and active living. This resource was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Overweight, Obesity, and Weight Loss Fact Sheet- This fact sheet provides information on the causes and health effects of being overweight or obese and discusses treatment options, including eating healthy foods, engaging in physical activity, taking medication, and considering surgery. This resource was developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health (HHS-OWH).
- The Weight of the Nation Documentary Film Series- This four-part documentary series, each featuring case studies, includes interviews with our nation’s leading experts, and individuals and their families struggling with obesity. The series, a presentation of HBO and the Institute of Medicine, was developed in association with the NIH and CDC and in partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Kaiser Permanente.
- Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity- In 2001, the Surgeon General issued a “call to action”—a science-based document to stimulate action nationwide to solve a major public health problem—on obesity. This report outlined strategies that communities can use in helping to address the problem, including daily, quality physical education for all school grades; healthy food options on school campuses and at school events; the availability of community facilities to encourage physical activity; increased research on obesity; and education for providers on prevention and treatment. The resource was developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Surgeon General.
- School Health Guidelines to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity- This resource provides nine guidelines that serve as the foundation for developing, implementing, and evaluating school-based healthy eating and physical activity policies and practices for students in grades K-This resource was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- School-Based Obesity Prevention Strategies for State Policymakers-This resource is designed to assist program coordinators in their efforts to inform and engage governors, state agencies, and state boards of education on how they can help address childhood obesity. This resource was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance- This document describes a prevention-focused action plan to decrease the prevalence of obesity in children in the United States. Actions steps are identified for the federal government, industry and media, state and local governments, health care professionals, community and non-profit organizations, state and local education authorities and schools, and parents and families. This resource was developed by The National Institute of Health (NIH).
- U R What U Eat- This kid-friendly, easy-to-read chart from We Can! has vibrant colors and graphic images that will help children understand which types of foods are nutritious and can be consumed freely (Go), which ones they need to eat less often (Slow), and which ones they need to eat least often (Whoa). This resource was developed by The National Institute of Health (NIH).
- Milk Matters with Buddy Brush Coloring Book- This 14-page coloring book for children age’s four to eight is part of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Milk Matters campaign, which is designed to teach parents, children, and health care providers about the importance of calcium for children and teens. The book follows Buddy Brush as he explains why calcium is critical not only for good health, but also to healthy teeth, and outlines how to take good care of teeth.