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ACT EARLY TO PREVENT CHILDHOOD OBESITY

Health professionals have labeled the rise in national obesity as a spiraling epidemic. From 1991 to 1998, the prevalence of obesity increased from 12 percent to 19 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This increase has been found in both sexes and all age groups, regions and income and educational levels.

Treatment of childhood obesity is extremely difficult and expensive. Early prevention is the key to reversing this deadly trend.

I am a nutrition educator for the Cornell Cooperative Extension. In Erie County, we have a gem of a program known as Eat Well Play Hard. It targets 2- to 5-year-olds in preschool and day care. By encouraging children to drink low-fat milk products, eat more fruit and vegetables and move their bodies in fun activities each day, long-term risks of obesity and its accompanying chronic diseases can be prevented. Eat Well Play Hard is a common-sense approach to keeping kids healthy.

LIZ RALEIGH
East Aurora

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