With one-third of children, and two-thirds of adults, in Canada considered overweight, strategies are being devised to deal with the problem.
One initiative is being spearheaded by the Childhood Obesity Foundation in 10 locations across the province, including the Cowichan Valley, this fall.
The foundation’s Dr. Tom Warshawski said the pilot project, called the Family Health Living Program, is intended for kids between the ages of eight and 12 who have weight issues, as well as their families.
He said the program is more family-based than past programs, and the idea is to bring the families together once a week for 10 weeks for sessions to discuss and encourage healthier lifestyles that would benefit the whole family.
“Most parents already have an idea of what healthy eating and living is, but the hard part is how to achieve it,” Warshawski said.
“There’s so much junk food being eaten, with too much sugar and fat with not enough vegetables, and sedentary time among children and youth, that are making so many kids overweight that many parents underestimate their own kids’ weight issues. We want to get more awareness out there.”
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Warshawski said busy schedules have seen time for family meals almost disappear, but families sitting together for meals allows for better eating habits and time to talk to kids about healthy lifestyles.
“It’s a time to talk to kids and address all of their concerns,” he said.
“That’s so good for everyone in the family and is not done enough anymore.”
Warshawski said the goal for this fall is to have a small number of prototype programs available in chosen schools in B.C. to test the new model.
The program, which is free for participating families, will be offered in Prince George, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Surrey, Burnaby, Vancouver, Campbell River, North Cowichan and Greater Victoria.
The first session will be held for families at Duncan Elementary School, which is being used to facilitate community programs, at a time that will be scheduled for the week of Sept. 24-28.
The first session will be about two hours, and the rest will be about an hour and a half.
Additional learning sessions and information will also be available online.
Warshawski said a minimum of eight families from the Valley, with a maximum of 15, will be chosen to participate in this fall’s program.
Program details including locations, dates and how to register can be found at www.familyhealthyliving.ca.