COACH promotes 5210 message to help prevent childhood obesity

COACH, Chesterfield County’s Coalition for Active Children, has adopted the 5210 Every Day message that promotes healthy lifestyles for families. Being healthy is as easy as learning four numbers — 5, 2, 1 and 0. These are part of a public-health campaign helping families, schools, communities and physicians raise awareness about nutritional and physical-activity guidelines.     

The 5210 program is rapidly gaining national attention. The program began in Portland, Maine in 2003 and has expanded throughout the Northeast, through the South, and even to California and Hawaii. In Chesterfield County, the message is being promoted by COACH, a nonprofit organization that works to promote a healthy future for children and their families. Its vision is healthy kids becoming healthy adults.

The 5210 Every Day message represents important steps that families can take to get and stay healthy.         

Dr. Robert Shayne, who also is a practicing pediatrician in Chester, hopes to see the 5210 message displayed on buses, signs along the interstate, supermarkets and art projects brought home by schoolchildren in the future.  

The 5210 Every Day promotes better eating with a choice of types of food and activities families can do together:

5 or more fruits and vegetables

  • Try new fruits and vegetables more than once – sometimes it takes a while to discover how yummy they are!
  • Plan and prepare family meals together.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables are great, but frozen and canned are just as tasty.

2 hours or less of  screen time

  • Plan which shows you will watch ahead of time.
  • Turn off the TV during meal times.
  • Keep TVs and computers out of bedrooms.
  • No screen time under the age of 2.

1 hour or more of physical activity daily

  • Incorporate physical activity into daily routines – make it easy, fun and free!
  • Take a walk together as a family.
  • Turn on music and dance.
  • Use the stairs.

0 sugary drinks, drink more water and milk

  • When thirsty, drink water – it’s the best thirst quencher!
  • Limit the amount of 100 percent juice – dilute with water.
  • Keep a water bottle close at hand.

“There is an urgent need to address this problem and 5210 is the centerpiece of any good campaign to stamp out child obesity,” said Dr. Shayne, fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and chair of the Obesity Committee of the Virginia Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics. “It is evidenced based, simple and sensible.  Richmond is behind the times as far as initiatives to fight obesity. 5210 has been used effectively in locations from Maine to California. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the state chapter of pediatricians have adopted its message.”

The results of a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that one in every five U.S children is obese — a number that has tripled since 1980. Results from a 2009 Chesterfield County school screening indicate that more than three out of 10 students are overweight or obese.

Today, children, youths and families are eating more and moving less. Many kids also spend more time indoors, instead of playing outside, and less time at school is spent in physical education. All of these factors have resulted in kids who are at risk of becoming overweight and obese, which can result in lifelong health challenges, such as:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Hypertension
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Depression
  • Sleep apnea
  • Allergies
  • Joint problems
  • Severe headaches
  • Attention deficit disorder.

For more information about COACH programs, resources or events, or to become involved, visit or call 594-1757. For more information about the Maine program, visit


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