Why Encouraging Kids to Get Active Will Have Lasting Effects On Their Health

Rates of childhood obesity are increasing at an alarming rate. So how can we help create healthy lifestyles for kids? The younger your children acquire physical activity and good nutrition habits, the more likely it is that they will maintain them for life. Knowing this, one of the keys for parents is to start early.

The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) –founded in 2010– is an effort to address that question, focusing on solving the childhood obesity crisis that America currently faces. By bringing together public, private and nonprofit leaders, the objective is to develop strategies to end childhood obesity and ensure the meaningful commitments needed to meet this goal.

Driven by our purpose to make the world healthier and happier, Herbalife Nutrition’s participation at PHA’s Annual Summit is a natural partnership because we both believe in the importance of making nourishing food more accessible to American families and encouraging kids to increase their physical activity.

Approximately 17% of U.S. youth have obesity, and nearly 1 in 3 children and adolescents are either overweight or have obesity. Not to mention the estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related illness are $190.2 billion dollars; that’s nearly 21% of annual medical spending in the United States. Childhood obesity alone is responsible for $14 billion in direct medical costs.

Cars, technology and entertainment have dramatically changed how much we move: we are at a point where it is normal not to move during the day. We have normalized a sedentary lifestyle and thus are at risk of making decisions that are not good for the human body over time.

So how do we go about tackling this problem? One very impactful and effective way is to empower kids. If they see good nutrition as a decision of their own –and not necessarily imposed by their parents– they might like it better. Increasingly, schools are providing healthy food education and activities such as having a garden where children can eat what they harvest. This offers a unique opportunity for kids to educate their parents!

Associations like the PHA have a critical role: taking the science and the information that we know and produce on an academic level and translating to simplified terms for the everyday person. For Herbalife Nutrition, being a part of those translations from science to practice is something we are committed to supporting.

So let’s keep that in mind when we discuss childhood obesity: we need to focus on physical activity and healthy nutrition but also on making sure kids feel motivated in a supporting environment.

Dana Ryan, PhD, M.A. – Director, Sport Performance and Education

Dana RyanPhD, M.A. – Director, Sport Performance and Education

Dana Ryan completed her doctorate in physical activity, nutrition and wellness at Arizona State University. Before joining Herbalife Nutrition, she taught exercise physiology and related courses at California State University Los Angeles (CSULA), and has conducted research at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) on the impact of community-based nutrition and physical activity programs on heart disease risk.