Stories produced by students in the Meek School of Journalism & New Media
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nearly 22 percent of Mississippi children are classified as obese, last in the nation. Though the percentage is dropping, one Oxford pediatrician says parents have to do their part.
“The chubby child is not the healthy child. Parents need to get more savvy on healthy foods for kids,” says Dr. Doug Sanford.
Sanford, a pediatrician at the Oxford Pediatric Group, says that these poor eating habits and lack of exercise will continue into their adulthood.
“Unless the tides gets turned, we’re going to see more unhealthy old kids and young adults,” says Sanford. “The big thing will be getting kids outside and active.”
One parent who values getting her child outside is Jenny Szerkins.
“If we weren’t doing baseball practice, normally he’d want to sit down and watch T.V., but now we’re doing sports and it’s something to keep him active,” says Szerkins.
Oxford Park Commission‘s baseball league just kicked off its season April 21 and will end in the first week of June. OPC’s baseball league helps boys ages five to 15 stayed physically active after school.
Throughout the year, OPC also offers leagues for softball, soccer, football and basketball. Recreational sports like these are vital to getting kids active says Sanford.
“Anybody under teenage years, if we’re wanting them to exercise, they’re only going to be successful if it’s in some kind of organized program,” say Sanford.
Matt Luke, another parent who put his child in recreational sports, says he knows being active at a young age with help his son carry a healthy lifestyle later in life.
“There’s some obvious benefits in playing and getting outside and moving around, running the bases, being active but also just interacting with other kids and learning how to communicate with something besides a text message at an early age,” says Luke.
Szerkins says learning how to interact with other children was important as well.
“Another reason why I wanted him in sports is because he’s kind of a shy kid and putting him on the team and letting him interact with other kids is really helping him out socially,” says Szerkins.