LIW-FHC-2015-widget-imageIt’s that time of the year when parents get ready for September, shop for back-to-school supplies, and consider how it’s possible that their children’s feet grew that much in just a year. All this careful planning and preparation helps to ensure a happy return to school.

The American Heart Association (AHA) wants families to remember to also include healthy choices in their back-to-school plans, making sure that the healthy choice becomes the default choice at back-to-school time, and year-round.

To help raise awareness and make parents and caregivers more conscious of their lifestyle choices during Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, the AHA is launching the Life is Why Family Health Challenge™. The goal is to help parents take back the “controls” when it comes to meals and healthy activities, and help them feel empowered to make small moderations in their lifestyle that will lead to bigger, heart-healthy changes down the road.

Today, about one in three American kids is considered overweight or obese, and there has been a sharp rise in obesity-related problems in children like type 2 diabetes, which is usually seen only in adults.

“When we look at heart disease statistics, the one that gets our attention is that 80 percent of heart disease and stroke can be prevented through simple lifestyle changes like eating healthy and exercising more,” said AHA Putnam Board President, Patrick W. Thomas, MD, MBA, FACC, FAHA, Chief of Cardiology at Hudson Valley Hospital Center, “The Life is Why Family Health Challenge was crafted to give families simple, quick, and fun weekly strategies to get healthier and prevent heart disease from a young age. These four categories will make a big impact on family health.”

The Challenge is broken down into four themed weeks on the American Heart Association Facebook page, listed as an event, and offers free tools and resources throughout the week in the forum. This online group also allows parents and caregivers to support and connect during the challenge.

The four-week challenge includes:

  • Week 1 –“My Cart is Why”– The American Heart Association recommends eating a variety of fruit and vegetable servings every day. Learn how to increase your fruit and veggie consumption on a budget.  Make shopping a fun and easy activity for you and your kids.
  • Week 2 – My Glass is Why” – Sugary drinks can cost you your energy and your health, don’t let others sugarcoat your future and let’s make sugary drinks a thing of the past without feeling thirsty.
  • Week 3 – “My Taste is Why” – Most adults eat more than double the amount of sodium recommended by the AHA. Tame your taste buds by reducing the sodium in your foods and on your plate.  Be sodium aware…if you dare!
  • Week 4 – “My Movement is Why” – AHA recommends kids get at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every day. Make physical activity fun, simple and memorable with your family.  Quick activities that easily integrate into your daily life – no matter your schedule.

Free online activities and templates will help families live healthier without adding extra time to their schedules. To join the American Heart Association, and families across the country, in the Life is Why Family Health Challenge™, visit www.heart.org/healthierkids.