(submitted photo: Childhood Obesity Foundation)

HEALTH

Free program in Surrey for families of kids ‘off the healthy weight trajectory’

Registration now open for 10-week program at Tong Louie YMCA

A free program that aims to make obese children healthier will be offered in Surrey and eight other B.C. cities this winter.

The Generation Health program is offered to families with kids aged eight to 12 who are “off the healthy weight trajectory,” with a 10-week session set to start Feb. 7 at Tong Louie YMCA.

The sessions will be held there on Fridays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., plus online sessions and group activities.

The family-focused, interactive program uses “a lifestyle behaviour approach for promoting healthy weights in children and youth,” according to a post at generationhealth.ca, where registration is now open. People can call 1-888-650-3141 for more details, or email info@generationhealth.ca.

“The program will support you in making family changes to healthy behaviours such as healthy eating, physical activity, screen time and sleep that support your child’s own health behaviours,” a description says.

It’s all focused on “practical, fun activities that build family connectedness while building both the parent/caregiver’s and the child’s skills to make lasting changes. As well, the program incorporates positive mental health activities that build resilience and self confidence and help to enhance overall well-being.”

The program is funded by the provincial government via the Childhood Obesity Foundation, which launched a pilot for it in the fall of 2018.

• READ MORE: Anti-childhood obesity program launching in Surrey ‘all about habits, not weight’

“Almost one-third of children and teens in B.C. are above a healthy weight,” said foundation chair Dr. Tom Warshawski, a Kelowna-based pediatrician. “Several years ago, the province came to our foundation and said, ‘What can we do about this?’ This is the made-in-B.C. program that’s been developed.”

The program is for preteens who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) above the 85th percentile for their age.

Warshawski said if parents think their kids are of an unhealthy weight, they probably are.

“To make sure, they should visit a doctor have their height and weight measured,” he said.

“We don’t talk about weight in the program at all, it’s about putting people on a more healthy lifestyle, and that involves the whole family – everyone gets involved,” Warshawski added.

The program is offered at sites in Surrey, Vancouver, Victoria, Burnaby, Campbell River, Chilliwack, Kelowna, Penticton and Prince George.

CLICK HERE to see video about the program.

(story continues below)

A “Family Goal Setting” blog was posted to generationhealth.ca on Dec. 31.

“As the New Year rolls around, we all tend to think about resolutions or accomplishments we hope to strive for individually or as a family,” the post says. “Sometimes all we do is think about them or perhaps work towards them for a brief time then feel lousy when we don’t meet our goals. It’s key to focus only on a short list of achievable or S.M.A.R.T. goals if we want to be successful instead of demotivated.

“S stands for specific—instead of saying “we’re going to be more active”, individually or as a family, quantify it like “we are going to do one family physical activity each weekend” and brainstorm together to create a list of ideas to get you started (e.g. going to the pool, trying a new hiking trail or hitting a trampoline park).

“M stands for measurable—ensure you set a target so you stay motivated and know you’re reaching success. Think up a fun, non-food reward, for meeting those milestones like buying a new board game or going to a movie everyone is excited to see.

“A stands for achievable—it wouldn’t make sense to choose the above goal of adding a family physical activity each weekend if one family member works weekends for example, or to train for a full marathon when current running levels are only a couple of kilometres. Make sure everyone is in agreement about the attainability of the type and timing of the activity or family goal.

“R stands for realistic—perhaps your goal is about cooking and eating at home together as a family more often. Is it realistic to set the goal for every single evening, especially on a day that’s busy with extracurricular activities? It might be more realistic to strive for 5 out of 7 days for example or one more day than your family is currently cooking and eating together.

“T stands for time-based—consider setting one or two long-term goals but also some short-term daily, weekly or monthly goals. It’s very motivating when you achieve success with the short-term goals and can continue to strive for the long-term ones.”

• RELATED STORY, from 2017: Online ads for foods and drinks aimed at kids should be nixed: Heart and Stroke.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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