Nutrition & Wellness
Ottawa County, like the rest of the nation, is faced with the challenge of reducing rates of obesity among children. Overweight children and adolescents are at risk for health problems during their youth and as adults. Studies have shown that overweight youth are more likely to become obese as adults. In addition, overweight youth are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.
Although it was suspected that local childhood obesity rates would follow national trends, until 2005, there was no information to verify this. The Department of Public Health developed the 3rd Grade BMI Measurement Study to monitor childhood obesity. As part of the study, the department measures the Body Mass Index (BMI) of local children. BMI is a health measurement based on a child’s age, gender, weight, and height., The most recent study found that 9% of the sampled students were classified as obese and 14% were classified as overweight.
Measuring Body Mass Index
Are you wondering about your child's weight status? One of the best places to find out if your child is obese or at risk for becoming obese is your family doctor. Ask for a Body Mass Index Screening at your child's next check-up. Your doctor can help you examine Body Mass Index (BMI) scores, family risk factors, and lifestyle to determine if your child is at risk. You can also use the BMI Calculator to determine your child's BMI.
You and your family can make healthy choices by following the tips below.
- Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products.
- Include low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products.
- Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, and beans for protein.
- Serve reasonably-sized portions.
- Drink lots of water.
- Limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Limit consumption of sugar and saturated fat.
- Never put your child on a calorie restricting diet without the advice of a physician.
- Encourage your kids to play outside with other children or plan physical activities as a family.
- Ottawa County featured park trails - English | Spanish
- Allegan County featured park trails - English | Spanish
- If you are active together, a child will not feel singled out if they are overweight.
- Focus on fun rather than skill, allowing kids to choose what they like. If kids think that physical activity is fun, they’ll be more likely to do it.
- Have your child help with active chores, like walking the dog.
- Your entire family will benefit from eating healthier and increased activity.
- Participate in the free Step It Up program - designed to help you stay active and explore new parks. Track and report your steps each week to be eligible for weekly raffle prizes. Registration Information | Results
- Make a family commitment to reduce screen time for everyone.
- Turn off all electronics during dinner.
- Limit TV and electronics to 1 - 2 hours per day and consider specific times as “screen free”.
- Take the TV out of your child’s bedroom.
- Less screen time gives you more time to be together as a family.
- Children are more likely to be healthy when parents and other family members make healthy choices.
Ottawa Food is a collaboration of many local agencies and individuals that exists to ensure all Ottawa County residents have access to healthy, local, and affordable food choices. The vision of Ottawa Food is an available supply of well-balanced meals for all.
Ottawa Food consists of members from a variety of backgrounds, including local public health, United Way, food pantries, human service organizations, food security advocates, MSU Extension, Feeding America West Michigan, farmers, and many others.
Ottawa Food developed a strategic plan for 2019-2021 which consists of 3 priority areas:
- Eliminate Hunger in Ottawa County
- Healthy Eating by All
- Increase Sourcing of Local Food
One Ottawa Food subcommittee is dedicated to addressing each of these priority areas. Each subcommittee meets monthly and the entire group meets quarterly. In addition, the Ottawa Food Advisory Board meets quarterly. For more information or to get involved, visit www.OttawaFood.org.
Accept Bridge Cards & Double Up Food Bucks
Bridge card holders can now make purchases at many farmers markets in Ottawa County (including Grand Haven, Holland, and Spring Lake), and have their spending matched with Double Up Food Bucks! When you use your Bridge Card at a participating farmers market, the Double Up Food Bucks program will match your dollar for dollar with bonus funds (up to $20/day) that you can use at the market to buy more fresh, Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables. It’s that simple - spend up to $20 on your Bridge Card at the market, and you’ll get up to $20 more; free to spend on healthy, local foods. Visit www.doubleupfoodbucks.org for more information or click here to learn how to use your bridge card at the farmers market.
To search for a farmers market near you, visit www.westmichiganfarmmarkets.org. Visit www.ottawafood.org to find more food resources. Not sure if you qualify for a Bridge Card? Visit www.michigan.gov/mibridges to determine if you are eligible and to apply for benefits.
The Summer Food Service program, called Meet Up and Eat Up, was created to provide anyone 18 years of age and younger free nutritious meals during long school vacations when they do not have access to the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Programs. The program is available at locations throughout Ottawa County; serving breakfast, lunch and/or snacks during the summer months. Meal Dates & Times
Help Me Grow® Ottawa connects families with young children (ages zero to five) to free local resources; helping children grow up healthy and ready to succeed in school.
Find Ottawa County food resources, healthy recipes, local food information and much more.
Let's Move! Childcare is about helping to prevent early childhood obesity.
Information about fruit and vegetables. Including ideas and healthy recipes to ensure fruits and vegetables are included in your meal plan.
Offers personalized eating plans and interactive tools to help you plan/ assess your food choices based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
My Plate Kids Place- Kids will find games, videos, songs, activity sheets, recipes and tips to help them eat more healthfully and move more. Parents and teachers will find new ways to help kids make healthier food and physical activity choices.
Action for Healthy Kids is a nationwide initiative dedicated to improving the health and educational performance of children through better nutrition and physical activity in schools.
Michigan Fresh - Check out the latest Michigan Fresh fact sheets and recipes!
We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children's Activity & Nutrition) is a national movement designed to give parents, caregivers, and entire communities a way to help children 8 to 13 years old stay at a healthy weight.
Help your children get connected with nature at Outdoor Discovery Center- The No Child Left Inside Initiative.
Offers hundreds of healthy recipes.
Fun body and mind games for kids and families from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Arthur’s Lunch-O-Matic and other fun games and resources from PBS Kids.
Healthy Habits: Student Guide to Nutrition and Fitness Resources