Jan. 27 event will present ways to combat childhood obesity

MANALAPAN, NJ – According to the national Centers for Disease Control, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years.

Parents, teachers and others who care for children can help reverse this trend by attending an information session at the Monmouth County Library Headquarters about ways to combat childhood obesity. The session is from 7 to 8 p.m. on Jan. 27.

“Action for Fitness in Monmouth County: Practical Steps for Combating Childhood Obesity” will be presented by the Monmouth County Health Department as part of its ongoing effort to encourage healthy lifestyle habits, including healthy eating and physical activity, which can lower the risk of children becoming obese and developing related diseases.

“Obesity is the result of caloric imbalance with too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed and is mediated by genetic, behavioral and environmental factors,” Monmouth County’s assistant public health coordinator Karen DeMarco said. “We want parents and other people who care for our children to fight obesity and avoid its immediate and long-term health impacts.”

Obese youth are more likely to have health issues that may include:

  • Risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure;
  • Greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem; and
  • More likely than youth of normal weight to become overweight or obese adults, and therefore more at risk for associated adult health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.

Karen Farrell, R.N., a school nurse and volunteer Health Education Ambassador of the county’s Medical Reserve Corps, will present the session.

The county Health Department is currently implementing a community-based “Action for Fitness” program at the Farmingdale Elementary School. The department plans to expand the program to other schools in 2011.

The Centers for Disease Control also reports that the prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 19.6 percent in 2008. The prevalence of obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years increased from 5 percent to 18.1 percent.

The Monmouth County Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is a community-based civilian volunteer program that helps build the public health infrastructure of communities nationwide. The MRC unit is organized and trained to address a wide range of challenges, from public health education to disaster response. The people who participate are medical and non-medical volunteers who work in many capacities. Some volunteers opt to be trained as Health Education Ambassadors also.

For more information about this program at the library, “Action for Fitness” or the Medical Reserve Corps, contact the Monmouth County Health Department at 732-431-7456.