Walk to School Day targets obesity


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How do we make a difference against a daunting problem such as childhood obesity? One step at a time.

I mean that literally: By getting kids to walk more, we could address their weight issues and, at the same time, perhaps help them with other problems they face in school and at home. That’s why I am urging everyone to participate in Walk to School Day today.

For one day, leave the car parked, stroll past the bus stop and walk your child to school. Trust me: You’ll enjoy it, and you just might put your kids on the road to a healthier life.

No, I’m not suggesting a morning walk, in and of itself, will solve the childhood obesity problem; but more walking and less sitting is indeed part of the solution to this serious epidemic.

Such simple physical activity has numerous benefits beyond weight management. The time spent walking can demonstrate to children that parents enjoy spending time with their kids. It might create opportunities to interact with neighbors and build a sense of community.

It saves money, conserves natural resources and contributes to a less polluted environment. It also could let kids know that the adults in their lives care enough about the family’s well being to change the daily routine.

The problem is daunting.

Currently, 30 percent of Indiana youth are overweight, and many are classified as obese.

Why? There is no simple answer, but one important factor is that children lack good examples of adults leading healthy lifestyles and maintaining healthy weight.

A couple of weeks ago, we learned that Indiana’s overall obesity level is predicted to climb to 56 percent by 2030. In other words, in just a few years, wherever our children look, more than half the adult Hoosiers they see will be obese.

The good news is that a number of Indiana initiatives are targeting this urgent public health problem. I congratulate and encourage efforts such as the Indiana Healthy Weight Initiative and PE-4-Me, a partnership between the Indiana University Department of Pediatrics and Indianapolis Public Schools to improve student wellness and physical education. Still, if we’re to help save our children from this obesity epidemic, changes must become a part of our daily routines.

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