Get Kids Moving Now, They’ll Grow Up Healthy

[title]

The following is an opinion editorial provided by Dr. Barry Malinowski, Pediatrician and Medical Director for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio:

When was the last time you walked into a room full of kids and saw them moving around rather than sitting around playing video games?

As medical director for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, I often travel around Ohio and visit companies that offer our health insurance to their employees. It’s always interesting to learn what companies are doing when it comes to wellness in the workplace to help their employees live healthier lives. I always make it a point to brag about our support of the Get Active, Get Fit School Challenge – many are so intrigued, they help us spread the word!

Get Active, Get Fit is a joint initiative between Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Radio Disney AM 1260. The school challenge program is designed to help motivate kids and families to achieve fitness together by engaging in fun activities over a 45-day period. Times are logged, submitted by the participating schools and the 20 Ohio elementary schools with the highest percentage of program participation win a live dance party at their school hosted by Radio Disney AM 1260.

In 2012, the fourth year of the program in Ohio, more than 70,000 students at 188 elementary schools participated in the program. You may have seen a school’s dance party recently featured in your local paper!

It’s no secret that childhood obesity is a growing problem in this country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 17 percent (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2 -19 years are obese, and since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has nearly tripled. Obesity can have a harmful effect on a child’s body in a number of different ways, both now and in the future. Children who are obese have a greater risk for developing chronic conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and breathing problems like sleep apnea, as well as joint and musculoskeletal issues.

As a pediatrician, I see firsthand the significance of kids adopting healthy lifestyles. Human beings weren’t designed to be couch potatoes. As baby boomers age and the prevalence of chronic diseases continues to increase, it will become exceedingly important that we stress the importance of exercise and nutrition. Starting these habits at an early age can only be beneficial in the long run.

We can collectively achieve a healthier society if we teach children and their families that living an active lifestyle is one of the best things they can do for their health. It’s also a great way for family to spend time together doing fun activities. Far too many kids spend their days on the couch playing video games or watching TV and we need to reverse that trend.

Incorporating wellness into the workplace, and every aspect of our lives, should continue to be emphasized. While it certainly makes sense to implement programs and services designed to keep employees healthy, why not take a long hard look at our future workforce? By providing opportunities to get kids active through programs and events like Get Active, Get Fit, we can help foster a culture that includes daily activity - and we might just even pick up some good habits ourselves.