The YMCA takes action against child obesity

Superhero Y Guy from the Scarborough YMCA was busy last weekend saving the community — from obesity.

By the numbers:

  • 1 in 5 – the number of young people in the GTA that are overweight or obese.
  • 93% – the percentage of kids that need more physical activity.
  • $7.1 billion – the estimated economic costs of obesity in 2008.

Source: YMCA of Greater Toronto

The YMCA hosted Megathon, a fundraiser dedicated to entice kids to be more active to help fight obesity and raise money for the cause.

Zoram Pandovski, the project manager at the Scarborough YMCA, was the man under the mask who represented the Superhero Y Guy for the event.

“As a hero I’m going around the building introducing myself and playing with kids, showing that everyone is to get active,” he said. “We are trying to raise money to support the kids and families with low income, and help them participate in our programs.”

Phil Cristi, general manager of the Scarborough YMCA, believes children need to get involved in physical activity at a young age so they stay active throughout their life.

“We want them to be active, we want them to be participatory, and we want them to be future leaders,” Cristi said. “Down the road we aren’t going to be talking about childhood obesity, we are going to be talking about healthy communities.”

Just the physical activity part reduces health complications whether or not the child’s weight comes down.

— Johanna Balge

Johanna Balge, a registered dietician from the Rouge Valley Health System, notices that many kids need to work harder than the average child to keep their weight down and be healthy. She says this is because they may have a genetic predisposition to diabetes, high cholesterol or other health problems.

However, she explains that simply being active will greatly reduce or prevent health problems overweight children may have.

“If a child is overweight but they are active, versus someone who is overweight and inactive, the inactive and overweight child is at a much greater risk of health complications than the overweight but active child,” she said. “Even if you take weight loss out of the equation, just the physical activity part reduces health complications whether or not the child’s weight comes down.”