Montecito Family YMCA: 7 Healthy Habits for Your Family to Help Solve Childhood Obesity

California now ranked No. 1 in percentage of children considered overweight or obese; Childhood obesity has more than tripled during the past 30 years

Montecito, Calif., September 21, 2016 – September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and while the dangers of childhood obesity are well chronicled, many families need support changing their children’s habits with the ultimate goal of improving health. That’s why the Montecito Family YMCA— a leading community-based organization dedicated to improving health—wants families to understand the dangers of childhood obesity and ways to reverse course through improved eating habits and increased physical activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than tripled in children and adolescents over the past 30 years. Today, obesity affects one in six children and one in three are overweight before their fifth birthday. Childhood obesity poses greater risks for a number of health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and some cancers.

Here in California, 15.1 percent of children 10-17 and 16.8 percent of children 2-4 are considered overweight or obese, making California the No. 1 ranked state in the nation according to the State of Obesity, a project conducted by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.[1]

“A family that changes together gets healthy together—building a culture of health that helps families adopt healthy habits is key to reducing childhood obesity rates,” said Sal Cisneros, President and CEO of the Channel Islands YMCA. “Once a family gets the proper education and support when it comes to weight-related risks, they can work together to incorporate healthy eating habits and more physical activity and into their daily routines.”

To get started, reaching out to your health care provider or organizations like the Y that provide support are great first steps. Youth Wellness Classes, swimming, karate, inline skating, soccer, flag football, basketball and baseball are just some of the activities available to youth through the Montecito Family YMCA.

The following tips are some great ways to incorporate healthier eating habits and more physical activity and into your daily family routine:

  • Drink Water: Make water the drink of choice (supplemented by age-appropriate servings of low-fat milk. Place a full pitcher of water on the table during meals, and allow children to pour their own water.
  • Provide Fresh Foods: Make it easy for everyone to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables by offering two or three colorful options at every meal. Feel free to mix and match fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables to provide variety.
  • Encourage Play: Kids should have at least an hour a day of unstructured play outside (when possible) and break a sweat at least three times a week by getting 20 minutes or more of vigorous physical activity.
  • Be Active with Your Kids: Join your children in games that get your hearts pumping and bodies moving. Adults should take a break from electronics and spend one-to-one time each day with their kids, enjoying one another’s company.
  • Eat Together: Eat as a family as frequently as possible. Involve kids in meal planning, preparation and clean up.
  • Reduce Recreational Screen Time: Time spent in front of a television, computer, tablet, cell phone or video games should be limited to two hours or less per day. Make a family plan to reduce screen time at home (i.e. turn off screens during meals, keep a chart, go for a walk after a meal).
  • Sleep Well: Kids and adults need to keep a regular sleep schedule; go to bed and rise from bed within 1 hour of the same time every day. Kids are growing and need 10-12 hours of healthy sleep per night and seven to eight hours for adults.

In addition to being healthy at home, there is a need to maintain healthy habits while attending out-of-school programs. To create healthy environments for all children the Montecito Family YMCA is implementing Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards in our before and after school programs. Our goal is to make the healthy choice the easy choice for your child while he or she is in our care.

To foster your child’s health, the Y strives to:

  • Provide a fruit and/or vegetable at all meals and snacks.
  • Only provide low-fat milk and water as beverages.
  • Serve meals and snacks family-style.
  • Set limits on screen time.
  • Provide daily physical activity (outdoors when possible).
  • Promote and support exclusive breastfeeding for infants.
  • Adults model healthy food and beverage choices and active play.
  • Provide parent/caregiver education to encourage healthy behaviors at home.

To learn more about the various programs offered by the YMCA and how to enroll, visit to find your local branch offerings or call (805) 969-3288.


About the Channel Islands YMCA

Established in 1887, the Channel Islands YMCA is a charitable organization of seven YMCA branches serving Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties including: Camarillo Family YMCA, Lompoc Family YMCA, Montecito Family YMCA, Santa Barbara Family YMCA, Stuart C Gildred YMCA in Santa Ynez, Ventura Family YMCA, and Youth & Family Services YMCA which operates Noah’s Anchorage Youth Crisis Shelter, the Isla Vista Teen Center and My Home at Artisan Court.

The Y is the nation’s leading nonprofit committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.  The Channel Islands YMCA serves over 46,000 individuals and provides over $1.3 million in financial assistance to families in need for child care, YMCA memberships, away and day camps, youth sports, and teen after-school programs. For more information about the Montecito Family YMCA, visit or call (805) 969-3288.


[1] To access your local childhood obesity statistics, refer to sources such as the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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