Healthy Eating for Today’s Youth

By Meredith McLean, Youth & Teen Coordinator for the Greater Naples YMCA

Healthy Eating for Today's YouthAs we look around at today’s youth we can see that many of our children are overweight and Florida is no exception to this growing trend.  Currently 27.5 percent of youth in Florida are overweight or obese according to Child Health Data. Obese children are more likely to become obese adults. If a child is overweight, obesity in adulthood is more likely to be severe. The Greater Naples YMCA is using their youth programs to help fight the childhood obesity epidemic.

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation says that more than 15 percent of American youth are involved in afterschool programs and millions more are engaged in summer camps and community organizations.  At The Greater Naples YMCA, both adult and youth programs are centered around the HEAL method- Healthy Eating & Active Living. This is a collaborative approach that introduces a whole programing, whole community and whole child mindset. This way they can incorporate all aspects of life to provide a healthy platform for children.

A simple look inside a child’s lunch box is a great way to see why the rates of obesity in children are growing.  All too often, parents are underestimating their children’s tastes.  He or she will only eat chicken nuggets and fruit snacks is not a good reason to continue feeding them fried and breaded carbs and sugar-loaded snacks.   It may take some extra effort and prep time, but expanding your child’s palette to include healthier, more complete meals will be reflective in their overall health for years to come.

The YMCA Camp Wyhoway Summer Camp is a very large component of youth programming in Collier County right now. Of course camp is a place to meet new friends, learn about new thing and of course be active! Camp Wyhoway campers are participating in new sports including fencing and tennis. All campers are served a healthy breakfast and lunch daily, along with at least 45 minutes of Health Education. In addition to the healthy meals each day, Camp Wyhoway provides additional servings a fruits & vegetables for snack.

The YMCA Healthy Living Campus as a whole has eliminated unhealthy options in vending machines and replaced quick snack foods with options available at Wynn’s Healthy Oasis Café inside the Y.  Parents looking for ideas and items to try are encouraged to stop by the Y, visit Wynn’s Healthy Oasis and inquire about upcoming programs specifically directed towards youth dietary programs.  Education and making changes in a child’s life now can help provide our future generations with the more opportunities to live a longer and healthier life. At the YMCA, it is their social responsibility to offer programs and opportunities to help make those healthy changes easier and they look forward to helping you along your journey to wellness.

Greater Naples YMCA  |  5450 YMCA Road, Naples, FL 34109  |  (239) 597-3148

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