Birmingham DYS helping to fight childhood obesity

By Arielle Clay

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - In 2007 about 35% of all students in the state of Alabama were considered overweight according to a study by the Alabama Cooperative Extension.

The study shows that number is partly to blame on a lack of physical education and poor nutrition.  In the midst of National Nutrition Month, the City of Birmingham's Division of Youth Services challenged kids and their parents to say no to obesity.

Cedric Sparks of DYS helped organize the expo.
"Our belief is we need to get our young people moving they need to know where to start how to eat how to get fit every day," Sparks said.  

He says the campaign is about changing people's views on what fitness and health can be.

"That's the goal make a fun atmosphere while encouraging health at the same time," Sparks said.

That goal seemed to be accomplished as Brittany Lewis and her Girl Scout troop sorted through vendor's tables and picked up healthy treats.

"I have a cookbook, two apples and I have lots of healthy snacks that I will enjoy eating," Lewis said.

Brittany's mom also got some help on how to slow down on the fast food she often turns to on busy days.

"They gave me a lot of info about a garden where I can get fresh fruit and veggies and they'll even deliver it for free, so I'm going to look into that," Lataja Lewis said.

Parents and kids learned some kickboxing moves as well. It is another way Sparks says the expo can teach families fitness is important and fun.

"It has to be a family change. It's generally generational.  We're encouraging families to come out because we think parents will follow the lead of kids if kids move mommy and daddy have no choice," Sparks said.

The Alabama Cooperative's study found almost half of students don't participate in P.E. and only 21% of schools have fruit and vegetables available for purchase.

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