Improving the health and wellness of the youth population has become a difficult challenge. A new program called Fit Families aims to tackle that.

One of the unique tenets of Fit Families, which is offered to families for free through the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension service, is its emphasis on improving self-perceptions among its young participants. The program’s organizers believe that if children affected by excess weight or obesity are provided a positive, fun environment rooted in social acceptance, their self-esteem will improve.

Fit Families, which is focused on areas of southern New Mexico that are bereft of resources for overcoming childhood obesity, was recently studied by NMSU researchers to determine its efficacy.

In the study, which was published in the Journal of Nutrition and Behavior (2016; 48 [6], 392–6.e1), 46 children with excess weight participated in the program for 7 weeks, together with their families or at least one parent. Weekly sessions lasted 2 hours and 45 minutes and included a cooking lesson, a healthy meal, a fun physical activity and a prize for each child and family. Participants (aged 8–17) also received education from a registered dietitian and positivity lessons from a school counselor. Each child completed a self-perception questionnaire at the beginning and end of the trial. Results showed that youth participants’ self-perceptions in relation to physical capacity and appearance improved significantly during the program.

“Fit Families provides a holistic approach to weight management that promotes positive self-perception, which may decrease the burden of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem obese youth face,” the authors wrote.

To learn more about the program, visit .

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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