COMBATING CHILDHOOD OBESITY
Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic in America. An estimated 23 million children and teenagers ages two to 19 are obese or overweight. That rate has tripled in the past 30 years. For the first time in history, children may have shorter lifespan expectancies than their parents.
Every day, the Y works with children, families and leaders from all sectors of the community to find innovative solutions to help individuals and families make healthier choices. Thanks to support through these partnerships and with funding from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Y has become a leader in addressing this issue in the Blue Water Area by implementing the CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) Curriculum across a wide variety of programs and services.
For over 25 years, the CATCH platform has been proven to launch kids and communities toward healthier lifestyles. Originators of “GO, SLOW and WHOA” food categories, CATCH is the most cost effective means of preventing childhood obesity, in an environment that’s fun and easy to sustain.
Two of the most important ways that CATCH creates behavior change are by enabling children to identify healthy foods, and by increasing the amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) children engage in each day. The terminology for identifying healthful foods – GO, SLOW and WHOA – has been adopted even colloquially nationwide as a simple means of labeling food’s nutritional content. More than 1,800 children have participated in Y programs using the CATCH curriculum over the past year.
Existing YMCA programs using elements of the the CATCH Curriculum include:
- Warm World Child Care
- Prime Time After School
- Bus with Gus
- Home School Gym & Swim
- Holiday & Snow Camp
- Camp Wanacombak
- By the end of 2017, basic nutrition information will be included in all Y swim and youth sports programs
In addition, the Y has partnered with elementary schools in the Port Huron area to offer the CATCH Kids Club (CKC), an after school program offered either 2 or 5 days per week, depending on the school. Each class features a healthy snack, CATCH activity and basic sports education. The goal is to keep kids engaged and active after school. Healthy habits take practice and CKC provides children with the knowledge and skills to make healthy food choices and be physically active at an age when they are forming life-long habits.