HEALTHY U

The Gateway Family YMCA Healthy U Programs Combat Childhood Obesity

The Y wants families to understand how adopting healthy habits can help reduce childhood obesity

UNION COUNTY, NJ – Many families need support changing their families’ habits with the ultimate goal of being a healthy weight. That’s why The Gateway Family YMCA wants families to improve eating habits and increase physical activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity affects one in six children in the U.S. and one in three are overweight, which poses greater risks for many health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and some cancers. Here in New Jersey nearly 1 in 4 children are overweight or obese according to the Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health.

“Successfully lowering obesity rates in children requires the whole family to change their eating and physical activity habits,” said Krystal R. Canady, CEO, The Gateway Family YMCA “In our preschool and afterschool programs our Healthy U program is included in the curriculum.” “The goal of Healthy U is to promote the healthy behavior changes that will help prevent childhood obesity through a three-pronged approach of nutrition education, increased physical activity, and family involvement,” stated Melynda A. Mileski, EVP/COO, The Gateway Family YMCA.

The following tips are some great ways to incorporate healthier eating habits and more physical activity and into your daily family routine:

• Eat & Drink Healthy: Make water the drink of choice and encourage everyone to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables by offering two or three colorful options at every meal. As a family choose a new fruit and veggie every week to taste together. Place a full pitcher of water on the table during meals, and allow children to pour their own water.

• Play Every Day/Go Outside: Children should have at least an hour a day of unstructured play(outside when possible) and break a sweat at least three times a week by getting 20 minutes or more of vigorous physical activity. Join your children in games that get hearts pumping and bodies moving.

• Get Together: Eat as a family as frequently as possible. Involve kids in meal planning, preparation and clean up. In addition, adults should take a break from electronics and spend one-to-one time each day with their kids, enjoying one another’s company.

• Reduce Recreational Screen Time: Time spent in front of a television, computer, tablet, cell phone or video games should be limited to two hours or less per day. Make a family plan to reduce screen time at home. For example, turn off screens during meals, go for a walk, set a timer to remind you to power down the screen.

• Sleep Well: Kids and adults need to keep a regular sleep schedule; unwind together in the evenings by reading a book or listening to soft music to ensure the body is preparing for sleep. Kids are growing and need 10-12 hours of healthy sleep per night and seven to eight hours for adults.

The Healthy U program is the result of a collaborative partnership between The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance. Through preschool, after-school and school-based programs, Healthy U impacts more than 90,000 children, ages 3 to 13, at 480 YMCA and elementary school sites statewide. These YMCA afterschool and preschool programs and partnering schools are implementing environmental strategies and activities, and education to increase physical activity and promote good nutrition for students and their families. Since its inception in 2007, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey has awarded three grants totaling $4.62 million through 2019.

To learn more about #HealthyU and The Gateway Family YMCA, visit www.tgfymca.org or contact the Elizabeth Branch 908-355-9622, Five Points Branch 908-688-9622, Rahway Branch 732-388-0057 or the Wellness Center Branch 908-349-9622 for more information.