In an on-going effort to address and reduce the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States, First Lady Michelle Obama officially launched the "Let's Move" campaign on Tuesday. As part of this initiative, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum that established The Taking on Childhood Obesity task force. This task force is challenged to prepare and submit to the President within 90 days, a plan that would outline a plan of action detailing a coordinated strategy with key benchmarks identified that would help to reduce childhood obesity in a generation.
I watched the press conference of the launch and found myself agreeing with so many of the points stated. At one point in time Mrs. Obama asked the listeners to close their eyes for a moment and remember back to their childhood experiences. She recalled a time when physical activity was a norm, and not an exception, when the parents fully decided what would be eaten whether the child liked a particular vegetable or not, and when recess and gym classes were mandatory in schools. Personally, I can remember when during a five day school week, you had gym class involving physcial activty four days of the week while one day was designated to Health Class, and regardless of your academic grades, if you didn’t pass gym, you seriously ran the risk of not graduating to the next grade level. We’ve gotten away from those times, and as a direct result, the health of our children is in serious jeopardy. Rates of childhood obesity have tripled and 1 out of 3 children is overweight or obese. Remember the days when “flat-footedness” was a common disqualifier for active duty? Today, the US Military reports that a common disqualifier for military action is obesity. Chronic illnesses such as: High blood pressure, High cholesterol and Type II Diabetes were once only prevalent in adults but are now present in children at alarming levels. The First Lady cited a startling fact that at the current rate of childhood obesity in this country, our children will not live longer than their parents. If we do not make changes today, the quality of our children’s lives will diminish tomorrow.
2. Providing healthy food at school: Mrs. Obama called on Congress to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act that would help to facilitate this
3. Encouraging physical activity
4. Making healthy food accessible and affordable
And, I’m about to go there….we need to be realistic. If a child has hit puberty and is chubby, chances are it’s no longer “baby fat”. Now, that said, I’m not advocating that you seek to make the child thin, but take pause and examine what the child is eating and their level of physical activity. Begin to make the changes at home that will help to facilitate a heatlhier lifestyle like cutting back on sugary soft drinks and incorporating more fruits and veggies in meals. DO NOT belittle the child and call him or her fat. Physical fitness is not about aesthetics, physical fitness is about health.
Regardless of your political affiliation, this is a critical topic that impacts us all. Our children need our help not tomorrow, but today. Let’s get our children healthy so that they can live.
If you’d like to know more about Let’s Move or how you can get involved, go to their website at: http://www.letsmove.gov/