The Chilliwack YMCA is one of 10 B.C. communities offering the latest pilot program offered by the Childhood Obesity Foundation to deal with overweight children and youth: the Healthy Family Living Program is due to start in late September. (Submitted photo)

10 B.C. cities to pilot new program against childhood obesity

Healthy Family Living program being tested in 10 communities, including Chilliwack

While obesity isn’t a new problem, the rate at which it’s affecting children has become so alarming, the B.C. government is pairing up with the Childhood Obesity Foundation to implement province-wide programming to curb unhealthy habits.

Founded in 2004 by a B.C. pediatrician and lawyer who wanted to reduce unhealthy weights in Canadian children, the foundation now works directly with the B.C. Ministry of Health and Provincial Health Services Authority to create the societal shift towards healthy eating and active lifestyles for people of all ages, including our children and youth.

“There is an epidemic of unhealthy weights of the people in North America,” said Dr. Tom Warshawski, who’s a pediatrician and foundation board member.

“In childhood, one in three have an unhealthy weight, or unhealthy weight trajectory,” Warshawski said. “By adulthood, 60 per cent of adults are either overweight or obese, and that’s a result of our habits.”

READ MORE: Program promotes healthy living in children

READ MORE: ‘It’s a time to talk to kids and address all of their concerns’

This month, Chilliwack joins nine other B.C. communities to become the first in the province to pilot the Family Healthy Living Program, which has set its sights at reducing obesity-related chronic diseases through prevention and education early on.

The program, which is free for participating families, will also be offered in Prince George, Kelowna, Surrey, Burnaby, Vancouver, Campbell River, North Cowichan and Greater Victoria.

“The goal of the program is that people generally have an idea of what they should be doing, but struggle with the doing,” said Warshawski.

“With this free program, we’re hoping to help people (not only) increase their (health) knowledge, but most importantly, make those positive behaviour changes.

“Weight isn’t even mentioned,” he said. “If you get the habits right, the weight will follow. This is about embracing healthy habits for the whole family that can last a life time.”

Based on the previously implemented MEND program, which was harvested from the UK, Warshawski said the Family Healthy Living Program takes best practices from around the world and puts a Canadian spin on them for British Columbians.

Targeted at school-aged children who have a BMI-for-age greater than the 85th percentile, the program is for the entire family, and will cover topics such as grocery shopping and budgeting, physical activity, healthy eating and nutrition, positive parenting practices, and mental health.

READ MORE: Olympian Patrick Chan helps B.C.’s ‘SuperChefs’ celebrate 10th anniversary

Running for 10 weeks, the program features 20 sessions: a 90-minute in-person session at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Wednesdays for the whole family, and a weekly, hour-long session to be completed online by parents at their convenience.

“First off, everyone — parents, children, siblings — meets together, then there are some fun games for the kids while the parents get more information around the topics of the night,” said Warshawski.

“It’s not just about healthy weight, it’s (also) about the mental health of the whole family.”

Warshawski said there are plenty of other things families can do to maintain their health.

“The single most important is eliminating sugary drinks, the pop, the iced tea, the juice. You shouldn’t drink your fruit: you should eat your fruit and drink your water.”

Also, cut back or eliminate processed foods — all the white stuff — and eat as many vegetables as possible at all meals. Breakfast shouldn’t be “sugar-bomb” cereals,as they contribute to weight gain, and last, but not least, eating at home as a family unit.

“But there’s a strong correlation between fast food, or restaurant meals, and unhealthy weight gain,” said Warshawski. “And being as physically active as possible and reducing screen time. That’s really the bulk of what we want people to learn and do.”

Just Posted

Construction continues on Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s $51M trail

Path through Park Reserve will link Tofino and Ucluelet.

Tofino graduate credits family and community after receiving $40K scholarship

“I would not be here and I would not be the person I am without my community.”

Michael Kaehn’s new book celebrates Hot Springs Cove’s history

Slideshows coming to Ahousaht, Tofino, Ucluelet, Port Alberni and Shawnigan Lake in September.

Two southern resident orcas missing as experts fear for the population

Centre for Whale Research says one whale each is missing from the J and K pods

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

15-year-old with imitation gun caused ‘dynamic’ scene at Nanaimo mall

No one was harmed in Monday’s incident, say Nanaimo RCMP

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

Most Read