The YMCA of the Capital Area wants families to understand how children’s perception of their weight affects their health — and what to do about it.

Throughout September, which is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, YMCAs are offering free Kid Fit classes to encourage children to live a healthy lifestyle.

While the dangers of childhood obesity are well-chronicled, many children who are overweight or obese don’t realize it, a news release from Capital Area YMCA said.

That’s why the YMCA of the Capital Area wants families to understand the role weight perception plays in childhood obesity and ways to reverse course through increased physical activity and improved eating habits.

To help children get excited about living a healthy lifestyle, the Y will offer free Kid Fit class for children ages 7 to 11.

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics says about 30 percent of children and adolescents ages 8 to 15 in the United States misperceive their weight, with approximately 81 percent of overweight boys and 71 percent of overweight girls believing they are about the right weight. If unchecked, obesity puts children at risk for many chronic diseases seen in adults, such as high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes, the report said.

“The best way to find out if your child’s weight might be affecting their health is to visit your pediatrician or primary health care provider,” said Kristen Hogan, marketing director, YMCA of the Capital Area. “Once a family understands any weight-related risks, they can work together to incorporate more physical activity and healthy eating habits into their daily routines.”

The A.C. Lewis YMCA also will offer a series of classes for families, Hogan said. These classes are for family members of all ages; parents must attend with their children. Classes will consist of seminars and exercise activities. Prizes will be given for participation.

Classes are at 10 a.m. Sept. 12, 19 and 26 at the A.C. Lewis YMCA, 350 S. Foster Drive.

Other YMCA sites will offer sessions throughout the month:

Paula G. Manship YMCA, 8100 YMCA Plaza, 5:30 p.m. Sept. 10 and Sept. 17. Call (225) 767-9622.

Dow Westside YMCA, 3688 Sugar Plantation Parkway, Addis, 5:30 p.m. Sept. 23. Call (225) 687-1123.

A.C. Lewis YMCA, 350 S. Foster Drive, 5 p.m. Sept. 14. Call (225) 924-3606.

C.B. Pennington Jr. YMCA, 15550 Old Hammond Highway, 6 p.m. Sept. 10 and Sept. 17. Call (225) 272-9622.

ExxonMobil YMCA:7717 Howell Blvd., 5:30 p.m. Sept. 7 and Sept. 10. Call (225) 906-5424.

Americana YMCA 4200 Liberty Way, Zachary, 5:30 p.m. Sept. 3. Call (225) 654-9622.

The YMCA also is implementing Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards in its before- and after-school programs as part of the Y’s commitment to the Partnership for a Healthier America, Hogan said.

“Our goal is to make the healthy choice the easy choice for your child while he or she is in our care,” she said in the release.

“In addition to being healthy at home, there is a need to maintain healthy habits while in child care, school or at out-of-school programs,” the release said.

To learn about the Y or to find healthy tips, visit ymcabr.org/healthyfamilyhome.