A call to action

From the editor

Here’s a scary thought: Some public health experts claim our kids could have a life expectancy shorter than ours if something isn’t done to battle their bulge.

News that our kids are getting fat is really no news at all. Doctors and other health experts have been warning us about growing waistlines for years. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using the latest figures available from 2003-2004, say more than 17 percent of our kids ages 2-19—or more than 12 million kids—are overweight. While the U.S. isn’t alone in this health crisis, we claim the top honors of all developed nations.

It’s easy to blame fast food, video games and TV, kids’ over-booked schedules—even parents. It’s harder to find a solution.

So let’s begin now. As you make your New Year’s resolutions, decide to make 2007 the year to get yourself and the kids off the couch and the cookies for a healthier, fitter family. Even a few small changes make a world of difference and our own actions speak volumes.

I’ve already had the difficult conversations with my kids about eating too much. Yet I continue to eat huge amounts of food in front of them when stress hits. I’m going to stop that as of now.

I’ve tried stripping snacks from the house only to have them want sweets more and beg for something to eat with their huge blue eyes that melt my heart every time. I’m not going to give in as of now.

They prefer chicken nuggets, fries, hot dogs and pizza and it’s easy to manage those meals with my busy schedule. I’m going to try to plan healthier meals as of now.

It’s upsetting to hear my 7-year-old worry if her legs are too big or that she shouldn’t wear her bikini at the pool because her tummy sticks out and that’s my fault because I’m always telling her I hate being fat. I’m going to try to stop saying that (and even mentioning the word dieting) as of now.

You won’t have to make changes all on your own. Help is here.

Beginning this month, Chicago Parent will feature a new nutrition column, Good Sense Eating, by noted nutritionist Christine Palumbo. A member of the American Dietetic Association’s Board of Directors, Palumbo has built a regional and national name for herself as a nutrition expert.

This month the Naperville mom also has created a month of kid-friendly meals for your family. Clip it out, hang it on the refrigerator and leave the hassle of meal planning to Palumbo this month (she even incorporates leftovers in the meals). I know I’m sick of the same old meals so my family will be eating the Palumbo way for January.

Throughout the next year, we’ll feature stories and tips to help you incorporate fitness into your busy lives.

But we’re not going to forget about the other end of the spectrum, either. Despite all the headlines about childhood obesity and the health impacts, there are kids in our communities who hate their bodies so much they are slowly killing themselves through starvation and binging.

It’s up to all of us to help kids start loving the body they are in, no matter their size.

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