Saanich program tackles growing childhood obesity health crisis

MEND program to run out of Colquitz middle school for parents and their children

Fall is right around the corner, which means shorter days, cooler temperatures and for some kids, less time spent outdoors.

But a free, 10-week program beginning this week at Colquitz middle school is aiming to buck that trend by educating kids about what it means to be healthy.

“There’s data now to show that even as young as four or five years of age, if you’re on an unhealthy weight trajectory, you see problems with sugar control, high blood pressure and fatty liver developing later in life,” said Dr. Tom Warshawski, a pediatrician and chair of the Childhood Obesity Foundation.

The MEND program, which stands for Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do it, is aimed at children ages five to 13 and their parents and caregivers. Using provincial funding, the program has been offered since 2013 as a way of tackling the alarming rise in childhood obesity across B.C. and Canada.

Health Canada numbers show 30 per cent of Canadian children and youth are either overweight or obese, up from 15 per cent in 1978. Obese children have an 80 per cent or higher probability of becoming obese adults, and adults who have unhealthy weights are at increased risk of heart disease, cancer, strokes and type 2 diabetes.

Warshawski has seen the reality of those statistics at his pediatric practice in Kelowna, which has convinced him to become an outspoken advocate for a “sugar tax” on sugar-sweetened beverages.

“A pop once in awhile isn’t all that bad, but Canadian consumption of sugary drinks is on average around 110 litres per person per year,” Warshawski said. “Those who drink a lot, drink a heck of a lot. About 25 per cent of teens drink it daily at an average serving size about 750 ml. There’s a huge consensus on this being unhealthy.”

Altering habits through higher taxes has been shown to be effective through tobacco taxation. According to CRD statistics, tobacco use in the Capital Region is as low as 11 per cent, thanks in part to higher taxes.

Part of the acceptance of exorbitantly high taxes on tobacco stems from peoples’ understanding of its adverse health effects, Warshawski said. Sugary drinks need that same buy-in, he added.

“Drinking liquid sugar is the worst thing to do. There are no nutrients in there, and it promotes weight gain in a very significant manner. Taxing that product would help recoup the cost to the healthcare system this product triggers,” he said.

The MEND program tackles the negative health effects of sugary drinks by encouraging participants to avoid them altogether. Taxing those drinks will require a grassroots movement to pressure government in the future, Warshawski said.

With MEND, parents are also educated about healthy portioning of fruits, vegetables, proteins and starches, and kids are held to two hours or less of screen time daily. In a tablet and smartphone ridden world, that can be a significant challenge.

The program also includes a free, three-month pass to Saanich Parks and Recreation centres.

See bchealthykids.ca for more information.

editor@saanichnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

Brian Korzenowski rides with Athena, left, and Venus who are safely strapped in and goggled up with the wind in their fur. (Zoe Ducklow - Sooke News Mirror)
Double-dog motorcycle sidecar brings smiles to Sooke Road commuters

Athena and Venus are all teeth and smiles from their Harley-Davidson sidecar

In January 2019, Grade 5 students from Glenlyon Norfolk School, accompanied by Grade 11 student Anastasia Castro, gave a presentation to Oak Bay council seeking a ban on plastic bags in the district. (Black Press Media file photo)
Oak Bay set to survey businesses on single-use plastic products

Survey gathers information ahead of expected legislation on provincial, federal level

Brooke Morneau, a previous participant in car parades, will watch one she has organized for this weekend from her Sidney workplace. (Courtesy Brooke Morneau)
Rolling show and shine ready to cruise Sidney through Saanich

Car parade past senior care homes set for Saturday, June 19

Al Kowalko drives Sooke School District’s first electric bus that began operation in May. The board decided on June 15 that all future buses will be electric, asking the province for more funding to support the program. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Sooke school board agrees to make all future buses electric

Board to ask province to increase funding to cover the extra up front cost

(Black Press Media file photo)
School parking problems plague Oak Bay residents

Need exceeds official requirements for parking at St. Michaels school

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Queen’s counsel Paul Doroshenko, a Vancouver lawyer, has been suspended from practice for two months after admitting that his firm mismanaged $44,353.19 in client trust funds. (Acumen Law)
High-profile B.C. lawyer suspended over $44K in mismanaged client trust funds

Queen’s counsel Paul Doroshenko admits to failing to supervise his staff and find, report the shortage

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., center left, reaches over to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., joined by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., center, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus as they celebrate the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act that creates a new federal holiday to commemorate June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people after the Civil War, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 17, 2021. It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden to sign bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

New American stat marks the nation’s end of slavery

Kimberly Bussiere and other laid-off employees of Casino Nanaimo have launched a class-action lawsuit against the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
B.C. casino workers laid off during pandemic launch class-action lawsuit

Notice of civil claim filed in Supreme Court of B.C. in Nanaimo against Great Canadian Gaming

John Kromhoff with some of the many birthday cards he received from ‘pretty near every place in the world’ after the family of the Langley centenarian let it be known that he wasn’t expecting many cards for his 100th birthday. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Cards from all over the world flood in for B.C. man’s 100th birthday

An online invitation by his family produced a flood of cards to mark his 100th birthday

Most Read