Monday, February 22, 2010

Michaell Obama takes on Childhood Obesity

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Michelle Obama, self-proclaimed Mom-in-Chief, is taking on one of the biggest challenges parents, educators, and health professionals face today: how to combat rising obesity in children. The numbers are striking: close to 1/3 of American children can be considered obese and obesity rates have tripled in the past 30 years. Over $150 billion dollars are spent each year on obesity-related conditions overall. It is a huge and important endeavor to encourage parents and kids to choose healthier food and fitness options and to motivate health professionals, government agencies, and foundations to work together to meet this challenge.

Personal change is needed, but so are policy changes and structural supports that can help parents and kids make better choices. School lunch and school recess are perfect examples. Kids need healthy lunches both to learn better and to keep healthy. Active play at recess or gym is important as exercise and a way to release pent-up energy so that the kids can settle in and learn better in the classroom. Every parent and teacher knows this. But sadly, school lunch is too often high-fat fried foods and athletic time is too often cut for budgetary or scheduling concerns. No individual parent has control of a school's schedule or its lunch options, but together parents, educators, and local politicians can support common sense choices that can benefit all.

A call to action is needed to make sure these issues are on the table as viewed as critically important. Here, here to Michelle for leading the call. Her newest effort has two parts. The Let's Move campaign is aimed at parents, teachers, and kids providing both practical advice and information on policy advocacy for school lunch and affordable access to healthy food. The Partnership for a Healthier America is a collaboration of the biggest foundations in the health field (W.K.Kellogg, Robert Wood Johnson, etc), many of whom are already sponsoring evaluations on how to improve fitness and food choices among youth. It is so exciting that these ideas are getting a national spotlight with leadership from the First Lady.

Childhood Obesity Battle is Taken up by First Lady, NYT, 2.09.10
Let's Move campaign
Partnership for a Healthier America