Polk County battles child obesity rate higher than state average | News
Bartow, Florida -- The Polk County Health Department is reminding parents that Physical Education classes offered at schools is good - but not enough to keep children healthy.
September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month,
and even if your children aren't overweight, there are ways, they say, to help children form healthy habits now that will last a lifetime.
Obesity is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, which are major causes of death and preventable hospital stays for the residents of Polk County.
Polk County reports 37.6 percent of adults are obese, and almost 13 percent of middle and high school students are overweight.
The county's obesity rate is higher than the state average of 27.2 percent, and among the highest when compared to other counties in Florida.
A group of community leaders, under the direction of Polk Vision, have set a goal to reduce the obesity rate in Polk County to less than or equal to the state average (from 37.6 percent to 27.2 percent).
"There are already a lot of great things happening in Polk County to address obesity. We are working to highlight what is already happening, and to create and promote new opportunities in the community," says Sara Roberts, Executive Director of Polk Vision, Inc. "We are working on a broad plan to address obesity, that includes helping our children learn to live healthy lives," she added.
There are many websites with information and tips. Here are some from USA.gov.
If you're struggling to get your kids excited about healthy foods,
MyPlate.gov's kids section can help. Their fun "Blast Off" game lets kids advance their character by making healthy food options. They can also use coloring sheets to design their own plates full of healthy foods.
The other important part of battling childhood obesity is making sure your children get enough physical activity. Kids need 60 minutes of vigorous play each day to be healthy.
Make physical activity fun for the whole family. Involve your children in the planning, say health department workers.
Walk, run, and play with your child, instead of sitting on the
sidelines, and set an example by being physically active and using safety gear, like bike helmets.
Release courtesy Polk County Health Department