WIC tackles childhood obesity

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— Childhood obesity is on the rise in Colorado.

Children are consuming more total fat and are getting less than two-thirds of the daily recommendations for vitamins and minerals from their diets.

To fight this epidemic, Colorado's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, is providing individualized nutritional education to participants in the program.

Staff members are encouraging parents to limit the amount of juices and sodas their children consume.

"You gain so many calories by drinking juice, and sippy cups are getting larger," said Mary Grace Hahn, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association's WIC program director. "We are encouraging them to offer more milk and water, and work on a more balanced diet where they eat more fruits and vegetables."

Lack of exercise is another contributing factor to childhood obesity.

"We are encouraging people to limit their television viewing and get out and get moving," Hahn said.

Breastfeeding is the third factor WIC is stressing. It is essential to get babies off to a healthy start with colostrums from breast milk, Hahn said.

"They're great for helping immunity. The fat content of feeding will change during the feeding, so they are getting a more nutritionally balanced feeding than from a set formula," Hahn said. "Breastfeeding is great just for developing and decreasing the number of ear infections and has shown a decrease in childhood obesity."

The WIC staff has the opportunity to educate participants when they come in every three months to receive their benefits. They also use that time to track each child's growth and development.

"We're not just handing out checks," Hahn said.

WIC will be tracking progress of this nutritional education program individually and state wide

Assistance through the WIC program is income based, and Hahn said there is enough funding locally for anyone who qualifies for it.

"We assist women and infants through age 5," she said. "It's a great program for getting kids off to a good start health wise."

For more information on the WIC program, call Hahn at 871-7647.

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