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New Year, time to get youth up and moving

McDONOUGH — Childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Studies indicate that in the United States the percentage of obese youngsters ages 6 to 11 increased from seven percent in 1980 to 20 percent in 2008. The percentage of obese youth ages 12 to 19 increased from five percent to 18 percent during that same period.

It’s information such as this that repels Brandy Dailey, athletic coordinator for Henry County Parks and Recreation.

“I blame it on bad parenting,” said the mother of two. “It’s up to the parents to make sure their children are getting out of the house and staying active.”

Dailey has been the coordinator at Henry Parks and Recreation for six years and has headed the Henry County youth basketball leagues. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Health and Physical Education. According to Dailey, Henry County Parks and Recreation has approximately 900 youth — boys and girls — signed up this year to participate in this year’s league, thanks to their relationship with the Henry County School System. She said a few of those young people are obese.

“We have parents who come in all the time and want to sign their children up because they just want to get them active and out of the house,” said Dailey. However, Dailey’s sentiment is that parents are finding it more conducive to let television, Wii games or other technical devices baby-sit or entertain their children.

“Some parents just might find that it’s easier to let their children sit in front of the television all day, because it keeps them quiet and preoccupied,” she said. This, Dailey said, is precisely the demise of youth across the country.

In this, she is not alone.

Michelle Obama is using her position as First Lady to emphasize awareness of child obesity. In media reports, Obama has expressed her concerns stating, “Obesity is a national threat.” In February 2009, Obama launched the “Let’s Move” campaign to bring an end to childhood obesity. Her goal is to spur youngsters and their parents to get outdoors and do more activities.

Dailey also said television shows like “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” on the TLC Network, which seem to promote obesity, don’t help.

“Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” is a reality television show that follows 6-year-old Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson as she competes in several beauty pageants around McIntyre, Ga. The show also features her three older sisters, her mother June Shannon and father Mike Thompson. The show has been criticized for its “offensive, boisterous, exploitative behaviors.” The mother and father are overweight and their eating habits are “horrific.” The parents have also been criticized for allowing Alana to drink “Go Go Juice —a mixture of Red Bull and Mountain Dew.”

“It’s an embarrassment to Georgia!” Dailey said. “That shows glorifies bad behavior and it’s not a good representation of Georgia or a good example for our youth.”

This is why Henry County Parks and Recreation is offering a plethora of activities to youth that will combat those stereotypical antics seen on the “Honey Boo Boo” show and keep kids off the technical games all day.

“It’s really up to the parents to make sure their children get out and get the exercise. An 8-year-old cannot drive himself to these activities,” Dailey said. She added they have developed several organized sports at various recreational centers and parks in Henry County this year to assist parents.

Here are just a couple of upcoming activities for youth: Elementary, middle, and high school lacrosse starts Feb. 4 at J.P. Moseley Park and Henry County Track and Field for youth ages 7 through 14 will have registration beginning in February. Dailey said parents can register their children by visiting www.hcprd.org.