A recent University of Minnesota research study reveals that parents of young children have poorer eating habits and exercise less than their peers, contributing to high body mass index. Question: what would a similar study of youth program leaders find? Are we modeling healthy living?
Research shows that parents are their children's first and most valued role model. Research also shows that program leaders modeling healthy living choices can have a positive effect on youth in their programs, enhancing the information found in the curriculum.
The need to support healthy eating and physical activity has never been greater. Over the past 30 years, poor eating habits, including inadequate intake of vegetables, fruit and milk, and a surplus of high-calorie snacks, have caused the numbers of overweight children in the US to double and the number of obese children to triple.
Are you intentional about serving healthy food in healthy portions, playing and being active with your youth, and encouraging physical activity? There are resources for incorporating healthy living into your youth program. For example:
- This summer, National 4-H has set a goal for 100,000 4-H youth to respond to the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award. National 4-H is providing support and a prize for the counties that sign up the most participants.
- The US Department of Agriculture provides guidance on what constitutes a healthy diet with the My Pyramid Steps to a Healthier You program, including activities for youth and how to be a healthy living role model.
What ways are you finding to incorporate healthy living into your programs? Are you intentionally modeling healthy living for your youth? What obstacles do you find to doing so?