Nurturing Kids To Be Healthy
June 27, 2017
Sometimes it’s the small, everyday decisions that can have the biggest impact on a child’s life. What if, one day, a little boy chose to eat an apple over a bag of chips and picked up a basketball instead of the remote? Then those healthy decisions were repeated the next day, and the next, until they were habits? And those new habits meant that not only did he have better physical health, but also that he had more focus when it came time to do homework and was better able to pay attention during class? It’s that connection—how making better choices can impact a child’s future—that drives Building Healthy Communities.
Building Healthy Communities is a collection of immersive school programs designed to fight childhood obesity through better nutrition and physical activity. Whether it’s in a classroom, at recess or in the lunchroom, students are shown that being healthy can be easy, delicious and fun. The program was started by BCBSM in 2009 and has grown into a partnership with 10 statewide organizations.
This mission couldn’t be more urgent. Nearly 33 percent of children in Michigan are overweight or obese, putting them at risk for serious diseases like diabetes. But kids who participate in the Building Healthy Communities program eat 40 percent more fruits and vegetables than the national average, walk 700 more steps a day, spend 19 minutes less in front of a screen every day and see a 74 percent increase in attention span in class. And the impact continues to be felt as the kids grow up: Research in the American Journal of Public Health showed that four years after the program, middle school students continued to have better cholesterol levels and be more active.