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Kids' solutions to childhood obesity

Monday, March 21, 2011; 7:15 PM

Childhood obesity is a huge national problem; but when we asked KidsPost readers for their solutions, we received more than 300 entries as part of Solutions for Childhood Obesity contest. Winner Jack Mead and five runners-up came to The Post's Childhood Obesity Summit last week where they shared their ideas with government leaders and sports stars. Here are edited versions of the winning entries.

Let kids cook

A big reason children become obese is that people don't know how to cook healthful food. We should teach students at school how to prepare healthy and tasty meals so when parents are busy they won't turn to fast, frozen or processed food.

Schools and some community centers have kitchens that could be used for classes and special community cooking nights. Grocery stores could sponsor kids' cooking classes.

To keep new ideas coming, the Washington Post could add a "Kid's Cookin' " section to the KidsPost. Kids could send in their favorite healthy recipe and a picture. This would be a very cool way to learn about different meals from kids around the area.

- Jack Mead, 11, Great Falls

Clowning your way to fitness

Circus is a solution to obesity. I'm learning what circus can offer, being fit and also having fun while doing it. It helps us make our lives stay away from obesity. There are several ways to do it but the easiest and most fun way to do it is circus.

Some of the things I do for circus are juggle - with scarves, balls, rings, and now I'm working on clubs! By juggling, you exercise your arms and your cardiovascular endurance gets activity, too!

I don't ever want to be obese. I want to be healthy, muscular and fresh. Circus is challenging and that's why I like it.

- Barnabas Kassa, 10, Alexandria

Make the tough choices

You go to the market for milk with your kid. He begs for candy, pointing at a rack. You are forced to give in. Sound familiar? In supermarkets, important foods like milk, butter and eggs are in the last aisles so that along the way your children can beg for their favorite sweet treat. Unhealthy school lunches like hamburgers have more fat and processed beef every year. More and more, kids find this all as an opportunity to snack, and before they know it, they are obese. I think we should make fatty, processed and fast food less easy to get. Have school lunches be healthy food like chicken or fish. Put up more farmers' markets. Replace the candy racks at the market with magazines. Thirty percent of American children are obese. These little healthy changes will slowly but surely shrink that number drastically.

- Dana Gerber, 11, Rockville

Eat what you grow

Logan Hegg submitted a YouTube video on why planting a garden is the solution to childhood obesity. You can view it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQ8jY0EF6MA (always ask a grown-up before going online).

- Logan Hegg, 4, Frederick

Fitness is one wheel away

Inside the classroom, outside in the sun. Forwards and backwards. Uphill and downhill. Toggling in place at your desk. 196 calories an hour. 150 more calories per hour than sitting at a desk, 50 more than walking.

Unicycle while writing, reading, listening and discussing books:

196 calories an hour.

Unicycle while singing, spelling, doing math and going from class to class: 196 calories an hour.

All ages, all sizes! Gets your blood moving. Strengthens hips, legs, arms, back and core muscles. Develops balance, agility and confidence.

196 calories an hour.

Burn calories, have fun, lose weight! Bye bye, obesity!

P.S. I wrote this while sitting on my unicycle!

- Shayna Berman, 10, Rockville

Veggies first!

My idea for fighting childhood obesity is to have all the kids eat their vegetables first. The cafeteria could have two lines. One could be called the "VEGGIES FIRST" line with just fruits and vegetables. The second line would have all the other food. Students would have to finish their fruits and vegetables before being allowed to go through the second line.

- Truman Abbe, 7, Hamilton

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