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Nutrition Matters: Just Playing Sports Cannot Prevent Obesity

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This PCA 1-on-1 interview features Alyssa Koomas, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who works closely with state and local leaders to develop outreach and training materials that will facilitate adoption of healthy principles in their programs. Alyssa works with Megan Halmo and together they are part of a dynamic team leading Healthy Kids Out of School, an initiative of ChildObesity180 at Tufts University. Healthy Kids Out of School helps youth sports and extracurricular organizations create healthy programs for the children who participate.

Former PCA President Tina Syer (@tinasyer4) met Alyssa at the National Coaching Conference in Seattle in July. In this podcast, Alyssa discusses her approach to developing healthy habits for youth athletes. Due to alarming statistics regarding childhood obesity in the United States (33% of children are obese, 80% of kids who are obese in their childhood will remain obese as adults) Alyssa explains why it is so important to develop healthy eating habits at a young age and stay active at practice.

Parents may be unaware that if a child does participate in youth sports, it does not necessarily mean that they are getting the recommended exercise or eating right. Alyssa has tips that coaches have shared with her for staying active in practice and getting the right amount of exercise:

1) Breaking athletes into smaller groups for skill practices, eliminating long drill lines.

2) Incorporating small sized skill games to keep everyone directly involved.

3) Avoiding long lectures – kids should be playing more than standing.

It's also important that parents understand post-game meals. Parents should talk about this before the season starts so that post-game meals consist of fruits and vegetables rather than pizza, cupcakes, donuts or other unhealthy foods. If parents promote healthy eating and drinking water from a young age, kids naturally become accustomed to these habits.

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