Each First Lady in the past few generations has taken on a different civic cause, and childhood obesity is the cause that First Lady Michelle Obama has identified as most urgent today. The campaign to fight it is called “Let’s Move,” and it’s headed up by the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity (TFCO).
In its first official report to the President, TFCO laid out some basic facts about the epidemic of childhood obesity, as well as a five-fold plan of action to address this urgent health crisis. This information serves as an excellent overview of why obesity is such a serious problem for kids today, as well as how communities can come together to turn it around.
Below are the basics of the “Let’s Move” action plan. You can read the full report here.
The Challenge We Face: Why Childhood Obesity Matters
- 31.7% of children ages 2-19 is either obese or overweight.
- 1 in every 3 kids is expected to become diabetic.
- 112,000 deaths each year are linked to obesity; as obesity rates rise, so will that figure.
- If these trends continue, today’s children will be the first generation ever to have a shorter expected lifespan than their parents.
“Let’s Move” – Five-fold Action Plan Against Childhood Obesity
The task force is focusing its effort on the following five areas:
- Early Childhood: Prenatal care and educated parents are a huge part of starting kids off healthy to begin with. Reducing exposure to harmful chemicals and increasing parents’ understanding of toddler’s nutritional needs are important steps to achieve this goal.
- Empowering Parents and Caregivers: The more we know, the better equipped we are to make smart decisions. Making nutritional information accessible and easy to understand, and having food packaging that accurately reflects nutritional content gives parents and caregivers the tools to help kids eat well.
- Healthy Food in Schools: During the school year, students eat at least five meals weekly at school. If those meals offer poor nutrition, or if snack foods high in sugar and calories are too prevalent, school lunch rooms may be undermining the healthy lessons supposedly advocated in the classroom. Getting healthy foods into school cafeterias is of utmost importance.
- Access to Healthy, Affordable Food: Not surprisingly, communities with decreased physical and financial access to healthy food have increased rates of obesity. Working to make good food realistically available is important for every community.
- Increasing Physical Activity: We all know that a healthy diet and an active lifestyle go hand-in-hand for creating healthy bodies. As children spend more and more time indoors in front of computers and televisions, it becomes more important than ever to encourage healthy activities and facilitate these activities becoming lifelong habits.
Creating healthy environments is central to raising healthy kids. No single element of this plan will alone reverse childhood obesity, but community leaders, parents, and schools working together can address the various elements that influence our children.