In 2000, the United States Department of Agriculture’s branch Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) launched an interesting but very useful campaign called “The Eat Smart. Play Hard” or ESPH. Food and Nutrition Service has been managing this campaign and serving public for almost nine years.
The focus of the campaign is on three different demographics: Children, parents and caregivers. Through interesting but very simple tools, the campaign promotes eating healthy and active life style.
According to Office of the Surgeon General, 12.5 million children are overweight in the United States. They are at risk for serious health problems. Why are children overweight? The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry states that less than 1 percent of all obesity is caused by physicals problems. Obesity is the result of lack of exercise, poor eating habits, over eating and emotional issues among several other.
Both Surgeon Genera office and FNS offer similar advice: keep the children active and promote healthy eating habits.
Much has been written over the years about healthy eating habits. This article will highlight some of the creative activities for the children to stay active. FNS suggested these activities on their website: www.fns.usda.gov/. I encourage everyone to go on this website for more information. It is filled with brochures and guides to keep children healthy and stay active.
I found one activity called “Be All Star” very interesting. It is a colorful paper that can be downloaded and printed. It has an advice, a puzzle, a joke and a recipe for a healthy snack for the children. On the activity sheet, a child learns the importance of having a good breakfast, puzzle to find (healthy) food in a base ball park, recipe of Fruit Sundae and a cute joke. The joke goes like this:” why did the cook get arrested? Because he beat up an egg!” There are several other activities like “Be All Star” with helpful suggestions that Parents and caregivers can use them to keep the children busy for hours.
There are several printable brochures, book marks, mini-posters, comic, stickers and handouts on the website. All materials have the similar theme: Eat Smart and Play Hard.
One of the colorful brochures is “Make family time an active time”. It provides the benefits and ways to stay active. The benefits of staying active include building and maintaining healthy bones, muscles and joint, healthy heart and lungs, controlled weight among others. This brochure is my favorite because it promotes the philosophy of keep moving and staying healthy. It has also other health related information.
Obesity or being overweight should not be taken lightly. There are plenty of free tools available online. USDA and Surgeon General Websites are just two of them.