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September Is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Fruits and vegetables are important in promoting good health, including helping to lose or manage weight.

Although some progress has been seen lately, childhood obesity is still a major public health problem. Approximately 17% of US children are obese, and certain groups of children are more greatly affected. Children who are overweight or obese as preschoolers are more likely than normal weight children to be overweight or obese as adults and suffer lifelong physical and mental health problems.

There is no single or simple solution to childhood obesity. The problem is influenced by many different factors, including for some children a lack of community places to get adequate physical activity or a lack of access to healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Research shows that fruits and vegetables are important in promoting good health, including helping to lose or manage weight. Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and contain plenty of filling water and fiber. Children can consume fewer calories and stay fuller by substituting fruits and vegetables in place of foods with higher-calorie ingredients such as added sugars and solid fats.

Helping healthy growth is not the only benefit of eating more fruits and vegetables. These foods also contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that may help protect children against health conditions later in life. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is important for everyone and especially children because it contributes to their optimal growth and development.

Last month, CDC released a report showing progress on childhood obesity among low-income preschoolers in many states. Supporting families and encouraging more children to eat a healthy diet including more fruits and vegetables could be one way to expand upon this progress. We can all take part in this effort. The federal government is currently helping low-income families to get affordable, nutritious foods through programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children and the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program also called WIC. State and local officials can go a step further by making it easier for families with children to buy healthy, affordable foods in their neighborhoods. Child care providers and parents can serve children fruits and vegetables for meals and snacks and model this behavior themselves.

Working together, states, communities, and parents can help make fruits and vegetables the easy choice for children and adolescents and build upon recent progress made to curb childhood obesity.



September 10, 2013

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