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Here's how to keep Mason County children healthy

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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While observing toddlers, one can see that they are naturally curious, energetic, highly active and love to explore.

As children grow, they often learn and take their cues from those around them. For example, saying "yuck" with an awkward facial expression while consuming broccoli may reduce your child's desire to eat it too. In addition, engaging in a sedentary lifestyle (watching TV all day) may encourage children to do the same. To get help, advice or resource information, why not take part in the Let's Move campaign? It's available at

Health is multidimensional, determined by a combination of physical, mental and emotional well-being. Regular physical activity, access to nutritious food, time for rest and relaxation, and having social and emotional support are all factors that contribute to our health and wellness.

Unfortunately for America, our kids are becoming more obese, increasing their likelihood of getting things like diabetes and/or hypertension (high blood pressure) — both of which are chronic diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that seven of 10 deaths each year are due to chronic disease alone, and treating chronic disease accounts for 86 percent of our health care costs.

Providing kids with access to fresh fruits and vegetables, plenty of water and a balanced diet helps to ensure proper nutrition and reduces obesity, chronic diseases and health care costs.

To better understand how to build healthy and happy children, go to

Some children and teens explore the use of cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, vaping products, alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. Access to these items in their household, and/or observing trusted adults using them, may increase the likelihood that kids will also try them. Unfortunately, the potential to become dependent on these substances can happen at any age. Once dependent, it can lead to many unhealthy outcomes and premature death.

Strategies for keeping our children safe (prevention techniques) require thoughtful decisions that parents must make. Whether it is a child restraint device while riding in a car; a helmet while riding a bike; putting on sunscreen; teaching them to cross the street; swim lessons; or putting a life jacket on — all are actions intended to reduce risk.

Other preventative measures are regular doctor and dental check-ups, routine vaccinations and screening for visual impairment.

Other factors to consider when discussing the health of a child are Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). These are experiences children have had that are linked to many social and health problems as an adult.

A lack of school and educational attainment, poverty, a parent that is incarcerated and divorce are among many ACE factors. These experiences expose children to toxic stress, which may also affect brain development.

You can learn more about ACEs by visiting the CDC website

Every Kid Healthy Week, an annual observance in the last week of April, was created to celebrate school health and wellness achievements.

This special week shines a spotlight on the many efforts that school partners are engaging in to improve the health and wellness of their students.

It provides resource information about nutrition, physical activity and learning. Everyone in the country can get involved to help support sound nutrition, regular physical activity and school health promotion programs.

For information, go to

Dr. Diana Yu, MD, MSPH, is a health officer for Mason County Public Health. She can be reached at

Copyright 2016 Shelton-Mason County Journal, Shelton, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: April 14, 2016

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