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Create New Family Reunion Traditions

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Posted: Sunday, November 10, 2013 10:00 pm | Updated: 1:31 am, Mon Nov 11, 2013.

(Family Features) Family reunions are a wonderful time to celebrate history and enjoy the company of those near and dear. While reflecting on your family's heritage, it is also important to look ahead to the future of your family by discussing health concerns.

Tough Subject

Though marked with stories and laughter, these gatherings are also a perfect time to talk about important matters that affect the health of your family members. As the number of those with common ailments such as obesity, heart disease and cancer continues to rise, there are other major conditions that should not be overlooked, such as kidney disease.

According to the U.S. Renal Data System, nearly one in six African Americans has signs of kidney disease. With the two primary causes being diabetes and high blood pressure, family reunions are a great opportunity to gather everyone and talk about family health, as well as encourage those at risk to get tested. The National Kidney Disease Education Program's Family Reunion Health Guide can help you plan a talk about kidney disease and African American families. Visit http://nkdep.nih.gov/family-reunion to order a copy.

Five Tips for Healthier Family Reunions

It can be easy to get family members of all ages involved in healthful activities. Just including a few small changes to your family reunion activities will help get even the youngest members more involved and create a memorable experience for all in attendance.

Here are some tips to improve your reunion with healthier activities:

Serve Healthy Snacks - This year, skip the fried and fatty foods and serve only wholesome, healthy foods such as whole grains, fruits, veggies, and lean proteins. If foods are served in a potluck style, be sure to connect with other family members and spread the word to only bring foods on the healthy, lighter side.

Track Family Health - Capture your families' health history. The Surgeon General's My Family Health Portrait tool can help you track health conditions that your doctor should know about. To begin your own family's health tracker, visit www.familyhistory.hhs.gov

Make Your Reunion Interactive - Ask a tech-savvy family member to interview elders within your family using a mobile phone or tablet. From this, create a keepsake video that future generations can watch to better understand family history and health history. Also, invite kids to get involved in creating a Facebook group to keep your family informed and excited about the reunion.

Get Out and Walk - Start a walking or jogging group with your family while at your reunion. Having a buddy can help you stay motivated and active after the reunion. Plus, this will allow you more opportunities for family time in the future.

For more information on kidney disease, diabetes, healthy eating and physical activity, visit www.niddk.nih.gov.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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