By Dave Smith
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Not long after the turn of the current century an alarming subject made a strong blip on the radar of healthcare professionals and children’s health advocates. That blip was the prevalence of obesity in American children and it was not a positive revelation.
As a result of the shocking statistics, a number of initiatives and resources arose to help combat childhood obesity. One of those resources, an awareness program developed by concerned groups from state, school and medical fields in Maine, proved to make a difference in lifestyle choices made by families to help avoid problems with kids becoming overweight. The program known as 5-2-1-0 is now used across the nation and the results are positive.
Beginning in March, the 5-2-1-0 children’s wellness program for grade school to pre-teen students will open at the Peterson Health and Wellness Center. The program will take place from 4-5 p.m. Wednesdays.
“We wanted to be inclusive here instead of just hanging fliers and posters. We have weight loss programs for adults, but not for kids so we are trying to get that going,” said Tiffany Brunton, 21st Medical Group health promotion dietician.
Typically the program provides a way for clinicians to promote awareness of healthy lifestyle habits to their patients, but the plan at the HAWC is to go a step further. By devoting an hour to education and activities related to the 5-2-1-0 topics, the program goal is to solidify healthy habits as a regular part of a child’s daily regimen.
What do those numbers mean and how do they fit into children’s wellness? Each tackles a particular issue that, when handled properly, can make dramatic changes in a child’s health. The five stands for the USDA-recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables a person should eat each day. The two is for two hours or fewer of screen time on electronic devices like computers, cell phones or other devices. The one represents an hour a day of physical activity and the zero is how many sugary drinks, such as energy drinks, juices and sodas, a child should consume.
“The idea is a four-week program,” Brunton explained. “Each week covers one of the topics. What we want them to do is incorporate it into their lifestyle. We want to get them thinking about nutrition and we hope if they are overweight, to bring down their Body Mass Index.”
The sessions consist of about 15 minutes of educational presentation followed by activities like making smoothies, preparing meal plans or measuring how much sugar is in sweet beverages kids enjoy. During the final session attendees will make a one-week meal plan to take home and use. The classes are for kids, but not to the exclusion of parents.
“Parents are welcome. They are the ones doing the cooking… so they are encouraged to come as well,” Brunton said.
If the classes generate enough interest, Brunton said they could expand them to include a partnership with the R.P. Lee Youth Center and field trips.
The sessions will take place at 4 p.m. Wednesdays in the HAWC classroom beginning in March. For information contact Brunton at (719) 556-5787 or email