FDHU’s ‘On the Move’ program to tackle childhood obesity in Minot

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Obesity in children between the ages of 2 and 19 has gotten worse during the pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

First District Health Unit is working to change that with its “On the Move” program.

Childhood obesity could result in dire health consequences. It puts children at risk of getting adult diseases like hypertension, diabetes and other chronic illnesses.

“As children become obese their bodies aren’t able to compensate for that excess weight so they start having other problems,” said Sanford Health Pediatrician Dr. Evan Rogler.

Obesity is largely considered a lifestyle disease and managing or preventing it requires some changes to an individual’s way of life.

“New studies have shown that genetics play a role, right? Can we hang our hats on that? Can we say a person is obese simply because of the family they live in or are a part of? No, I don’t think so,” Dr. Rogler explained.

The CDC says obesity is more prevalent in kids from low-income families.

Families under the WIC program tend to have overweight or obese kids. In Minot, however, the WIC program has yet to see such a trend.

Director of Nutrition at FDHU, Jim Snyder, says beneficiary families get healthy supplemental meals including fresh fruits and vegetables.

“It tries to cover all of the different food groups categories. In the protein kinds of foods, we do not have meat though on the program. That has not been authorized by Congress yet, but we do have other protein foods,” he said.

To ensure that the numbers remain low, First District is partnering with schools, and parks and recreation for its new On the Move program.

The program is funded by a $15,000 grant through the Maternal and Child Health Unit of the department of health and a matching amount from FDHU.

“It’s a five-class program again teaching kids how to eat right and increasing their physical activity that sort of thing and we’re hoping to partner with them in terms of one or two of our staff to go into the school system to conduct those classes over a five-week period,” said Snyder.

Dr. Rogler says preventing or managing childhood obesity should be a family affair.

“If I’m sitting there eating a bag of chips and I’m telling my son to eat an apple instead, that’s probably not going to go over too well but we have to as a family or as a community do this together,” said Rogler.

Dr. Rogler also said the winter cannot be an excuse to be inactive. He encouraged families to find indoor family activities when it’s too cold to play outside.

He says medical intervention should be seen as the very last resort if a child’s weight does not respond to lifestyle changes.

On the Move is expected to begin in February.

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