Thursday, September 20, 2012

JLSA Signature Project: Childhood Obesity Awareness

Taking Stock

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m on a constant quest toward personal improvement. I’m always thinking about being a better mom, a better attorney, a better wife, a better blogger--a better woman. I’ll get on kicks to try to improve things that might lead to a new-and-improved me--some fizzle, others seem to set in. One area that has caught my attention recently is in alignment with this year’s JLSA Signature Project, which is focused on improving awareness of the current childhood obesity epidemic.

Did you know that 1 in 3 children in America are overweight or obese? That ⅓ of all children born in 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes? Did you know that food portions are 2 to 5 times bigger compared to 30 years ago, and that beverage portions have grown a whopping 68%? Today's children spend an average of 7.5 hours a day watching TV or movies, using cell phones, and playing on computers and video games. And only 1/3 of high school students get the recommended level of physical activity.

Expressed in 4 simple, colorful blocks, our Signature Project has challenged me to consider how I can improve my kids’ chances of not becoming a statistic in the obesity epidemic. You may have seen this graphic flashed up on the screen at our last General Meeting:

As expressed by this graphic, the most important steps we need to take to combat childhood obesity are relatively straightforward: eat 5 fruits and veggies a day, limit fast food, eat meals as a family, watch portion size, eat breakfast daily. We are encouraged to limit our kids’ screen time to 2 hours or less, and not allow TV in our kids’ bedrooms. Along these lines, we should try to focus our kids on getting at least an hour of physical activity every day. Finally, we should completely eliminate sugared beverages from our kids’ diets.

Sounds easy, right? Wrong! I imagine every family’s achilles heel will be different. For my family, it is a significant challenge to get our kids (and ourselves!) to eat 5 fruits and veggies a day. We try to eat a varied, rainbow-colored diet, but we are so busy in the evenings that it is easy to get into a rut of opening a can of green beans to go along with whatever the main course du jour happens to be: Voila! Veggies! And who really has time to “trick” their kids into eating nutrient-packed vegetables by cooking them into foods where they will be masked? Not this mom. I have had more arguments with my youngest daughter (a complete carb loader!) lately over simply trying the array of vegetables that we have started preparing at dinner time (it really is amazing how many good frozen veggies there are out there that can go conveniently from freezer to microwave to the dinner table quickly). It’s challenging, but it’s our burden to bear if we want our kids grow into healthy, active adults.

I look forward to hearing more about the Signature Project in the months to come, and I’m making a personal commitment to implementing the 5-2-1-0 model into our family "rule book." 

What are your challenges when it comes to nutrition and exercise in your family? Do you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share to help us encourage the children in our lives to be healthier? 

Comment below!


  1. Great article Kelly! I hope when people read this they'll better understand why we chose this to be our Signature Project Focus.

  2. Great post! Thanks for pointing out that every family struggles with some element of establishing healthy habits. For us it's the "1" in 5-2-1-0. Thanks to jogger strollers and mommy and me yoga we can start the habits early!