Ask The Expert

Help For Obese Children

Q: I don't think I can help my overweight child by myself. Are there affordable programs to help us?

A: Children experiencing severe problems with their weight often need the support and knowledge of a professional, sometimes in a group setting. Organized groups enable children to work with others in a similar situation to lose weight.

The organization I chair, the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition (ACFN), recognizes and recommends several programs, both nationally and locally, as excellent resources for children battling extra weight—and the programs don't cost much. For example, the Produce for Better Health Foundation offers the Five a Day for Better Health program, a national effort that encourages Americans to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. In addition, Colorado on the Move encourages people to increase their levels of physical activity and to enjoy the many benefits of better health by upping the number of steps they walk each day. Other programs, such as Activate's Kidnetic.com, provide tips to get your child excited about living a balanced lifestyle.

Getting your community more involved in nutrition and physical-activity efforts is another option. Funding for physical-education programs is available through the Carol M. White Physical Education for Progress (PEP) program, which awards federal grants of up to $500,000 for the implementation of physical education plans in schools or by community organizations. This year, PEP will give nearly $60 million in funding to schools nationwide.To learn how to get involved in these programs, visit www.acfn.org/balance/programs.html.

This month's ASK THE EXPERT is written by Susan Finn, PhD, RD, chair of the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition (ACFN), a group of food, beverage, and consumer products companies, not-for-profit organizations, and trade associations working together to improve the health of all Americans, particularly youth, by encouraging public policy that promotes fitness and healthy nutrition. Finn is a past president of the American Dietetic Association.