Elizabeth S. Reames | 4/19/2005 10:28:30 PM
To help tweens be healthy and active, get them involved in a national program called "VERB: It's What You Do," recommends LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.
Tweens, 9 to 13 year olds, spend an average of four and a half hours each day in front of a variety of screens, including television, video games and computers.
To combat the lack of activity of today’s youth, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control (CDC) launched a campaign two years ago to encourage physical activity and healthy behaviors for kids. The national media campaign encourages tweens to find an active verb (such as run, paint, sing, bowl, etc.) or several verbs that fit their personality and interests and use "their verb" to become active.
"VERB: It's What You Do"gives examples of how kids can be active and enjoy exercise. The program features role models, such as athletes, musicians or dancers, to help kids see the positive benefits of physical activity.
"The primary goal of the campaign is to reduce the number of overweight children and adolescents," Reames says, noting that the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents has more than tripled in the past two decades.
In 1999, the prevalence of overweight among children 6-11 years of age and adolescents 12-19 years of age was 13 percent and 14 percent, respectively.
Overall, in the United States, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating contribute to obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which are responsible for at least 300,000 deaths each year.
One of the key recommendations to reduce obesity among Americans is increased physical activity. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week for adults and 60 minutes of physical activity for children.
"Physical activity leads to better health, and it’s fun and easy to do," Reames says, advising tweens to try a variety of activities from the VERB campaign: run around the block backwards, play badminton with two birdies, learn a new dive, play kickball, dance the Electric Slide, walk a dog; play touch football, play catch with water balloons, try a cartwheel, practice your free throws, play table tennis with two balls, jump rope to the park, don’t walk! play volleyball using your opposite hand only! see how many miles of bike riding you can rack up; play soccer; try salsa dancing, go horseback riding, try golf.
"See how many of these you can do over several weeks" Reames encourages, adding that the VERB Web site, http://www.verbnow.com, offers fun games, interesting facts and many interactive features that will help tweens become active.
"Active children are better able than their sedentary peers to meet the demands of daily life; gain greater self-esteem, confidence and discipline; achieve more in school; have social connectedness; and enjoy positive family relationships," the nutritionist says.
For information on related family and consumer topics, visit the FCS Web site at http://www.lsuagcenter.com/Inst
/Extension/Departments/fcs/ For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.