(Chesterfield Coalition for Active Children)
To create a healthy future by engaging children, youths and families in making healthy choices throughout their lives.
Healthy kids becoming healthy adults.
The Chesterfield County Coalition for Active Children’s vision is “healthy kids becoming healthy adults.” Our mission is to create a healthy future by engaging children, youths and families in making healthy choices throughout their lives.
The coalition works to promote a healthy future for children and their families through education and awareness about the benefits of good nutrition and physical activity. COACH also brings awareness to the community about the long-term health risks associated with being overweight or obese. The group began in 2003 and gained its nonprofit, 501(c)3 status in 2009. Partners include schools, community groups, faith-based organizations, government and concerned parents.
- Chesterfield County Government (including Office of Communications & Media, Parks & Recreation, Youth Planning, Public Libraries)
- Chesterfield County Health Department
- Chesterfield County Public Schools (including the Dept of Instruction, Food & Nutrition Services)
- Virginia Cooperative Extension
- Bon Secours Health System
- Virginia Commonwealth University
- Greater Richmond Fit4Kids
- New Way Fitness
- Chester Pediatrics
- Faces of Hope
Extent of the Epidemic
Obesity is a serious health concern for children and adolescents. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey I (NHANES) 1971-1974 to 2003-2006 show increases in overweight among all age groups:
- Among preschool-aged children, aged 2-5, the prevalence of overweight increased from 5.0 percent to 12.4 percent.
- Among school-aged children, aged 6-1, the prevalence of overweight increased from 4.0 percent to 17.0 percent.
- Among school-aged adolescents, aged 12-19, the prevalence of overweight increased from 6.1 percent to 17.6 percent.
Locally, data collected annually by Chesterfield County Health Department through health screenings in public schools document that more than three out of 10 children are either overweight or at risk of being overweight.
Contributing Factors to the Epidemic
Why is this happening to our children? The easy answer is that they are eating more without increasing their physical activity, or they have become less active without reducing their caloric intake. Either scenario will result in weight gain. Unfortunately, many kids are doing both – eating more and exercising less – and therefore gaining weight even faster.
There are other reasons for this disturbing trend. Due to busy schedules, families are consuming “ready to eat,” pre-prepared meals, usually higher in fat and calories compared to more nutritious, home-cooked meals. The consumption of sodas, fruit juices with added sugar and snack foods also has significantly increased, along with portion sizes.
These and other issues are leading to an epidemic of obesity and a physical, mental and emotional health challenge that may become one of the most important of the century.
Adverse Health Effects
Obese children and adolescents are at risk for health problems during their youth and as they grow into adults. For example, during their youth, obese children and adolescents are more likely to have risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type-2 diabetes.
Obese children and adolescents are more likely to become obese as adults. One study found that approximately 80 percent of children who were overweight at age 10-15 years were obese adults at age 25 years. Another study found that 25 percent of obese adults were overweight as children. The latter study also found that if children are overweight before the age of 8, obesity in adulthood is likely to be more severe.
In addition to encouraging physical activity, children should avoid too much sedentary time. Although quiet time for reading and homework is fine, children should limit the time they watch television, play video games, or surf the Internet to no more than two hours daily. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics, AAP, does not recommend television viewing for children ages two or younger. Children should be encouraged to find fun activities to do with family members or on their own that simply involve more activity.