Yoga as Childhood Obesity Solution


Leah Kalish thinks an answer to America's childhood obesity problem is yoga for preschool-age children. She wants to share her idea with Michelle Obama and other health leaders at the Building a Healthier Future Summit in March, but she needs your help to get there.

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Her program, a series of yoga story DVDs for kids called Move with Me Action Adventures, is one of 10 semi-finalist offering solutions for childhood obesity in a Facebook contest by the Partnership for a Healthier America. The top three ideas with the most votes will be invited to present their ideas at the summit.

Children ages 4-6 have the lowest BMIs (body mass index) of their lives, so if kids in preschool are already have higher BMIs than they should, they are five times more likely to be obese as a teen, Kalish explains. "It's very hard to shift the body once the developmental norm has been disrupted, so starting there just makes sense," she adds.

The DVDs guide children in story-based, active play using yoga and other movement, and also teaches them skills to self-regulate and manage stress so they don't learn to act out or consume unhealthy food as a coping mechanism. While indoor activities such as watching DVDs get a bad rap, Kalish says video can also be a powerful learning tool that gets kids moving. Most households have television sets, so this is a program that could help kids everywhere.

She'd like to see the DVDs available to early childhood communities through preschools, Head Start, libraries, through parent and health websites, used in teacher and parent training, etc.

This is a chance for the yoga community to lead the effort, Kalish says.

"I have been so thrilled and amazed at the support of the yoga community. It makes me realize that we are all ready for appropriate yoga to go mainstream in education," Kalish says. "This opportunity may turn the tide of how yoga-based programs can be integrated into school settings to enhance optimal development, health, well-being, self-control and academic achievement."

Voting is open through the end of January. For more information and to cast your vote click here.