It’s a problem impacting children around the country – and in our own backyards.

Photo by Chris Roll

Did you know that only half of kids in America are getting the recommended amount of exercise?

It used to be that by the time summer rolled around, the sounds of children playing outdoors could be heard in neighborhoods across Philadelphia. But today, researchers have found that among 10,000 students (ages 11 to 16) surveyed in 39 states, only about half of them admitted to being physically active each day.

According to a recent article, kids are also not eating as healthy as they should be. Fewer than one in three kids eat fruits and vegetables daily. And almost half of these kids admit they’re typical of their peers in the same age group. But it turns out that the kids who exercise less and eat junk food more also report being depressed more often than their friends. These are the kids we are reaching with our nutrition and oral health programs in North Philly.

So what can families realistically do to encourage kids to get moving and eating healthier?

Cut back on the time children and teens spend playing video games. Kids who spend more time with video games, on the computer and watching TV are less likely to exercise or eat fruits and veggies.

Have your child join a team – like baseball, softball or soccer. If the expenses are too high, talk to your local community center about free summer sports opportunities and exercise programs all summer.

Cut back on sweets, French fries and sodas. Kids who eat less junk food and drink less sodas are more likely to have healthier eating habits. They’re also more likely to have more energy – and spend more time away from the TV, computer and games.

Want more tips? Click here to read the full article.