Douglas County health experts say 1 out of 6 kids are overweight in the county, as well as nearly 70% of adults.
Those concerning statistics are one reason that 16- year-old Akansha Jain is taking action.
Jain is one of only 20 teens across the country selected to serve on the Youth Advisory Board for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. It's a non-profit organization to fight childhood obesity.
It's an honor that Jain earned after a lot of hard work. "I saw that [childhood obesity] was a really big problem that was hitting our generation, and if we don't make a change right now it's going to keep getting bigger and bigger," said Jain.
Kerri Peterson with Live Well Omaha supports Jain's concerns. "We have created environments that don't support the healthy choice being the easy choice and that has really resulted in those high level of obesity and overweight." Said Peterson.
Peterson warns that the consequences could be serious if health habits for the youth don't change. "This generation of youth, if trends don't change, may be the first generation not to outlive its parents because of the chronic health conditions which is an epidemic," Peterson explained.
Jain has made strides to reverse the effects of poor dieting. She created a program called "Green is Go" which was implemented last spring at Omaha South High School. It's a sticker system that labels foods. Green stickers mark healthy options, yellow stickers mark foods that should be eaten in moderation, and a red orange sticker marks foods you shouldn't eat too much of.
"The main goal is to educate the kids about which foods are healthy and which foods are not,"
said Jain. She said lunch ladies at the school were running out of apples because of the new labeling.
With Jain's position on the board, she hopes to be able to reach out to more resources to keep coming up with ideas to make the community healthier.
Peterson says the challenge is getting more kids to have a passion for health like Jain. "Hopefully, she can be a catalyst in the community," said Peterson.
Jain will graduate High School next May, and hopes to go to medical school.
To learn more about healthy food options and lifestyles, visit www.livewellomaha.com
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