A new program which aims to encourage healthy eating and active living amongst families is coming to the West Shore.
The family healthy living program is a 10-week pilot program for parents, children between the ages of eight and 12 who are above a healthy weight, siblings and caregivers to learn how to eat healthy, live an active lifestyle, and kick unhealthy habits to the curb.
“One-third of children and youth are on an unhealthy weight trajectory. This is significant because it tends to track into adulthood … Habits usually don’t change, they tend to worsen as people get older,” said Dr. Tom Warshawski, pediatrician and chair of the Childhood Obesity Foundation, a Vancouver-based charity that is putting on the program.
“Unhealthy weights are associated with early death, chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, hypertension and stroke. There are so many reasons to embrace healthy eating and active living.”
The free program includes a one-and-a-half hour session led by staff at the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre once a week, as well a bit of online homework,
It will also focus on five key principals related to healthy eating, including avoiding sugary drinks and products with added sugar, eating as many vegetables as you can whenever you can, avoiding highly processed grains such as chips, granola bars and crackers, and cooking and eating at home.
Not only will the program teach parents and children about those principals, but it will also teach them how to implement them on a daily basis.
“We know that family meals tend to be healthier, they’re associated with a healthier weight gain trajectory, but the mental health benefits are huge for the kids,” Warshawski said.
“We have an epidemic of anxiety amongst kids. We’re not spending enough time with our children and it’s easy to get seduced by having to run here and do that, but family meals trump everything in terms of physical health and mental health.”
The program is expected to launch in Colwood on Sept. 25, and is one of 10 that will be taking place across the province. Other municipalities include Prince George, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Surrey, Burnaby, Vancouver, Campbell River and North Cowichan. If all goes well, there are plans to potentially expand the program in the future.
To register for the family healthy living program visit familyhealthyliving.ca.