Hospital bringing back popular Food, Fitness & Fun Program

January 13, 2019

Parents of elementary school children looking for something for their youngsters to do after school are in luck. Columbus Community Hospital is bringing back its Food, Fitness & Fun Program next month.

The free eight-week program is for children in second through fifth grades and will take place each Thursday, starting Feb. 7 in the multipurpose room of the Columbus Wellness Center, 3912 38th St. Each Thursday over the eight weeks, participants will learn interactive nutrition and fitness activities while also getting a healthy snack.

Areas of focus are healthy snacks and meals, positive body image, healthy relationship with food, increased activity, reduction in screen time, mindfulness, appropriate portions and advertising/role of the media on food and beverage choices.

“It’s a good activity to bring the kids to after school and give them something to do for an hour,” said CCH Registered Dietitian Susan Olmer, who will be leading the course with help from fellow CCH Registered Dietitian Joan Plummer.

But the class is about far more than just giving kids something to do after school.

“It’s designed to serve as one strategy to help in the prevention of overweight children,” Olmer said, noting obesity in the United States for children is about 18.5 percent – roughly 5 percent higher than in the year 2000.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children with obesity in the U.S. has more than tripled since the 1970s. About one in five school-aged children (6-19) is obese, according to the CDC.

“So we can see the trend is, unfortunately, slowly going up,” Olmer said. “So we feel we need to continue to do this program and these activities.”

This program aims to reduce the number of overweight and obese children locally and prevent obesity and other health issues for these children in the future, CCH officials said in a provided statement when announcing the program.

The hospital started the program last year and had much success with it. Its popularity was part of the reason CCH leaders opted to bring it back. Once again this year, participants will be busy. As part of the program, kids will learn new and simple activities that can help them stay active, particularly when they’re stuck indoors.

“All the things we do for this course, there is something in there they can take home and use …” Olmer said, noting they have planned an obstacle course with different activities at each station. “Water bottles can be filled with water to use as little weights. You can put tape on the floor and jump between the marks on the floor, kind of like a hurdle. We’re teaching them things they can do at home.”

Kids will also get a nutrition lesson by talking about healthy eating habits and putting it into practice.

“We’ll make a fruit parfait and show them what proper portions are for that child,” she said.

The class will run from 4-4:45 p.m. each Thursday, and Olmer said she is looking forward to its start.

“The kids are fun, they’re interesting. It’s very interesting to see how each group interacts or does the activity,” she said. “You never know what they’re going to do. That’s what is kind of interesting to see – is how children react and do things in each age group. That’s what I like about it.”

For more information on Food, Fitness & Fun, visit www.columbushosp.org.

Olmer said several kids are already signed up for the program, noting she anticipates 20. She added she hopes people consider having their kids take part in it. It will ultimately give kids the chance to interact with a nutrition professional and learn about making healthy lifestyle choices.

“It’s up to us as adults to teach our kids how to be more proactive, learn how to exercise and incorporate that into their everyday activities, learn how to eat better, how to treat each other, things like that,” she said.

Matt Lindberg is the managing editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at matt.lindberg@lee.net.

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