Old habits, like overeating and the poor health practices that can lead to obesity, die hard: the CDC estimates that 60 million adults, or 30 percent of the country, are obese. Those diet and exercising behaviors start young — childhood obesity has tripled since 1980. And in Texas alone, more than 30 percent of school age children are overweight.
But new data, from a study conducted by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and as first reported in the New York Times, suggests cities that enact comprehensive action plans that curb the availability of unhealthy foods in schools and make exercise a daily part of kids’ lives can reduce childhood obesity rates. Such plans have seen results in New York, Philadelphia and Mississippi.
The challenge affects Austin as well, despite its strong culture of fitness. Boneshaker, a local nonprofit aimed at helping kids create healthy, active lifestyles, reports that more than 20 percent of all school-age Austin children are overweight.
The group’s goal, says executive director Riley Gerber, is in line with the kind of comprehensive, multi-pronged approach that seems to be most successful. Boneshaker educates Austin youth about proper nutrition and making healthier choices. They’ve just earned their nonprofit 501(c) status and are gearing up for multiple campaigns with local athletes for 2013.
Gerber said the nonprofit wants to keep their programs accessible and use them as a way for healthy, active adults to lead by example. They’ve partnered with triathlete and long-distance runner Desiree Ficker to form a donation-based track and cross-country program for elementary-age children.
“The idea of just simply putting on a pair of running shoes and getting out and running around is super simple and doesn’t require any extra materials or costs,” Gerber said.
They're also working with competitive cyclist Will Ross for mountain biking instruction and mentorship for middle schoolers. And Gerber says the group is in the infancy stages of getting their programs into local schools.
Along with fellow Austin nonprofit Active Life, Gerber said Boneshaker is going to use social media to relay healthy messages to their kids.
“Inspirational things,” Gerber said. “But also connections between healthy eating and feeling better and information about diabetes and change in diet for young people.”
But it’s more about showing than telling. Members of the nationally-recognized competitive cycling group, Team Hotel San Jose, will ride in national races and in the community next year under a Boneshaker moniker. By getting up to move, they’re getting out the word.
Boneshaker is a member of I Live Here, I Give Here. You can donate to Boneshaker directly from this page using the donation tool below.