By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
5-2-1 is child’s play, but it’s a healthy guide for grown ups, too.
The numbers add up habits that can last a lifetime.
• 5 fruits and vegetables a day
• 2 hours or less of recreational screen time
• 1 hour of physical activity each day
The 5-2-1 Have Fun campaign can be spotted on billboards around Tupelo and in the backpacks of elementary students around Lee County.
“We want Tupelo to be a healthy hometown,” said Hank Boerner, chairman of the Healthy Tupelo Task Force, which is sharing the healthy message. “It’s for everybody.”
The 5-2-1 isn’t just for people who have problems with their weight.
“These are lifestyle changes you want to do forever, that we should all be doing,” said Tupelo pediatrician Dr. Ed Ivancic.
Eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day provides essential nutrients and fills tummies with the good stuff instead of junk food.
“If you concentrate on eating five fruits and vegetables, you’ll snack less,” Boerner said.
Schools are offering more choices in fruits and vegetables at lunch, but it can still take time to fully incorporate fruit and vegetables into every meal and snacks.
“Start small,” said Donna Loden, a task force member and programming director at HealthWorks! Children’s Health Education Center in Tupelo. “The kids have to get accustomed to that.”
Limiting screen time applies to TV, video games, cell phones and computers.
“It doesn’t count what they need to do for school or work,” said Boerner, who noted no screen time is recommended for children under 2.
Too much recreational screen time means too much time sitting still, Loden said. Even if kids are communicating online with other kids during their screen time, they’re still missing out on valuable social development.
“‘Words with Friends is not enough,’” Loden said. “Try ‘Words with Children.’”
An hour of physical activity isn’t as daunting as it sounds, and it doesn’t have to be all at one time.
“It’s just moving,” Boerner said. “It’s an hour of not sitting.”
For kids, it may be going out for an playing with friends. For adults, it can be going for a walk or doing household chores.
Making more movement a habit for a lifetime will make a tremendous difference in the life of a family.
“Exercise prolongs life,” Loden said. “It cuts the risk of diabetes.”
The Healthy Tupelo Task Force is sharing the message through Lee County as a part of its participation in the national Healthy Weight Collaborate.
“Tupelo was one of 40 cities chosen to participate,” Loden said. “Mississippi had two cities chosen.”
Tupelo and the other Healthy Weight Collaborate cities tailored the message for their communities. For Tupelo, it was focusing on the three health measures and getting the message to kids and their families.
“Every K-5 school in the county is receiving the tips,” Loden said.
In a few months, there will be a 5-2-1 week and a billboard contest to get kids and families more involved with sharing and living the message.
The campaign comes from Let’s Go.org, which used well-established guidelines and public and private partnerships to carry the message to children and their families. In Maine, they found they were reaching 86 percent of parents, who reported kids eating more fruits and vegetables and reducing screen time, between 2007 and 2011. National surveys of obesity measures showed obesity declined more steeply for Let’s Go communities in Portland, Maine, areas.
The 5-2-1 can have an impact here, too.
“If you incorporate these steps in your life and your family’s lives, it will make a difference, Boerner said.
EAT MEALS AS A FAMILY. Surveys show kids who eat with their families are more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables.
CHECK OUT TUPELO AND LEE COUNTY’S great walking tracks and hiking trails.
RAKE LEAVES and then jump in.
HELP KIDS BRAINSTORM fun things that don’t involve screen time.
KEEP FRUITS AND VEGGIES in easy reach. They should be easier to grab than junk food.
BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL. Kids are more likely to be active,
limit screen time and eat more fruits and vegetables if they see their parents do it.
HEALTHY LIFESTYLES pay off for kids. Healthy, active kids
are more likely to:
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Have better self-esteem.
• Sleep better.
• Do better academically.
• Avoid health issues like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes,
and bone and joint problems.
TOO MUCH TV can hinder social development, problem-solving
skills, language skills and understanding of their physical