Cuyahoga County - Step Forward’s Nutrition Administration Assistants spent the month of September visiting with Early Head Start and Head Start students to teach them about healthy eating and exercise.
September was Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.
Some of the activities included cooking classes, where Nutrition Administration Assistants taught young children how to make a tasty parfait. During the demonstration, they talked about why yogurt was a healthier choice than ice cream and how the students could still make good choices but enjoy the taste of a treat. Other Nutrition Administration Assistants read books that focused on movement. During one particular visit at Louis Stokes, Francine Johnson danced with students to show them how to incorporate fun into daily exercise.
Obesity is defined as a body mass index at or above the 95th percentile. Worldwide health experts have called childhood obesity an “epidemic.”
According to our partners at the Cleveland Clinic, childhood obesity affects one in five children nationwide. Between 2017 and 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted obesity prevalence was 12.7 percent among two to five-year olds and 20.7 percent among those six to eleven-years old. Childhood obesity appeared to be more common among certain populations, including Hispanic children (26.2 percent) and non-Hispanic Black children (24.8 percent) and those in the lowest income group. Health experts have said children with obesity are more likely to experience high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type-two diabetes, breathing problems such as asthma and sleep apnea and joint problems.
Nutrition experts have the following suggestions in order to reduce a child’s chances of obesity:
Reduce or eliminate sugary drinks from their diet
Experiment with different foods, food groups and how children make or eat their meals
Encourage your child to eat slowly; plan for snacks at specific times during the day
Be a good role model by staying physical active and having fun
Plan activities that provide everyone exercise, including biking, walking or swimming
Limit screen time to no more than two hours per day
Students at Step Forward’s Early Head Start and Head Start are provided nutritious meals throughout the day, including breakfast, snack and lunch. Infants and Babies are provided formula. Each child is offered gym and playground time, depending on the weather.
If you would like to enroll your child in Early Head Start or Head Start, now is the time! Step Forward is enrolling new students. Click here for more information.