Families: Play together, eat together - and build lifelong active healthy habits together

7:25 PM April 28, 2011

You don't sell as many cars as Lee Iacocca did unless you know something about people. Mr. Iacocca once said "the only institution that works is the family." So it makes sense to mobilize the power of the family to combat obesity.

Beating obesity takes two things - people consuming fewer calories, and expending more calories through healthy physical activity. It's called energy balance, and families eating and playing together can help achieve it. That is why the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation and Women Impacting Public Policy have launched a national campaign called the Together Counts™ program. It encourages families to eat meals and engage in physical activities together.

Lots of studies demonstrate the value of families eating together - by Harvard University, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri, University of Tokushima in Japan (and others).  As a recent article on the online Huffington Post pointed out, "dinner makes a difference. Family dinner is our best bet at an immediate impact in childhood obesity."

There is also considerable support for the value of family participation in physical activities. A paper by academics at University of Northern Iowa points out: Children model their behavior on the behavior of the adults in their lives, and they are more affected by what their parents do than what they say.

No wonder the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative has issued a challenge to families to be among the first to achieve a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) by committing to physical activity five days a week, for six weeks.

Families that eat together and share regular physical activities are happier and healthier. That's why 'together counts.'

The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation brings together 160 retailers, food and beverage manufacturers, restaurants, sporting goods and insurance companies, a professional sports organization, NGOs, trade associations, and the U.S. Army to do their part to help families reduce obesity, especially childhood obesity.


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