New challenge offers fun, healthy way for families of all ages to build healthier lives

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (August 22, 2014) – September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and to help raise awareness with families across the country, the American Heart Association (AHA) has an easy and fun way to help you with the No. 1 health concern among parents – childhood obesity.

Through the EmpowerMEnt Challenge in September, your family will be empowered to take control of your health by pursuing a different goal every week. Each goal is fun, simple, won’t break the bank and can be done as a family. By the end of the month, you’ll all be better equipped to live a heart-healthy life. 

“The prevention of childhood obesity starts at home,” commented Len Saunders, author of Keeping Kids Fit and spokesperson for the American Heart Association from Montville, NJ. “The American Heart Association wanted to do something fun and free for families that they could do together that would, in turn, lead to lasting changes in their home and their daily lives.”  

Taking the challenge is easy.  Complimentary templates and activities are easily accessible on www.heart.org/healthierkids and are broken down into themed weeks.  To help keep you on track and accountable during the challenge, you can share your family’s progress on the new Life is Why Facebook group. 

Here’s a breakdown of the challenge, week-by-week:

·         Week 1: Empower your Cart. See how much you can boost your fruit and vegetable intake this week. You might be surprised by how many will fit into your grocery cart. Try a scavenger hunt in the store. See how many fruits and veggies your kids can find in 15 minutes.

·         Week 2: Empower your Glass. This week is about reducing sugar-sweetened beverages.Did you know sodas are one of the leading contributors to obesity? Help your kids start a healthy habit early by reaching for water first (and see if your grocery bill drops!).

·         Week 3: Empower your Taste. This week is about sodium reduction. That’s important because most people have more than double the amount of sodium (or salt) their bodies need – which increases chances of high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and other problems.  You can reduce the sodium you eat by comparing labels of similar products and choosing the one with less sodium, and using herbs, spices, citrus juices, and vinegars instead of salt to add flavor to foods.

·         Week 4: Empower your Movement. This week’s challenge is simple: Get moving! You don’t need to put on a perfect gym outfit and drive all the way across town. Just turn off the TV, grab the kids and get active.

Activities for each week include a grocery store scavenger hunt, ideas for a “Great Lunchbox Switch” challenge, tips on how to “Shelve the Shaker” and fun activities for the “Screens Down, Laces Up” challenge. 

By the end of the challenge, you may feel healthier and happier! You may find yourself moving more and quenching your thirst with a tall glass of water instead of automatically reaching for a soda. You’ll realize that little changes in your every day schedule can make you feel better and even save you money.

Take time to educate yourself and learn more from others. Participate in the challenge, explore links to tasty recipes, get grocery shopping tips, access tools and resources and share your personal EmpowerMEnt Challenge successes on our Facebook page by visiting www.heart.org/healthierkids