It's no surprise that many American children have a weight problem. Being overweight or obese can hurt kids' self-esteem, but it's also detrimental to their physical health. Many kids today are developing type 2 diabetes, a diagnosis that was unheard of in children a few decades ago. People are calling to reverse this startling trend—and the White House is listening. First Lady Michelle Obama is actively addressing the childhood obesity problem with a national awareness campaign called Let's Move.
Let's Move is a multi-faceted campaign. It calls for kids to get more physical activity, schools to provide healthier meals, and manufacturers to make clearer nutrition labels on their food and beverages.
Because there are many components to Let's Move, we've included a breakdown of how the First Lady's initiative will work to get America's kids moving more and eating right.
Healthy Choices at Home
Kids need to be active each day, but many are spending way too much time playing on computers and watching television.
The Let's Move campaign developed opportunities and created resources to inspire kids to get active. Using LetsMove.gov, children and parents can find a Kids Walk to School event in their area, and parents can learn ways to incorporate activity into family time.
The campaign also plans on updating the President's Physical Fitness Challenge to encourage kids to develop a healthy, active lifestyle habits that last long after the Challenge ends.
Though the Let's Move campaign is focused on children, it's about educating parents, as well.
To help parents make better choices at the grocery store, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has outlined guidelines for easier-to-understand food labels. The new guidelines call for food and beverage retailers and manufacturers to use front-of-package labeling, so consumers will easily see the nutritional content of the product.
Healthy Living at School
To make schools healthier environments, the Let's Move campaign includes the Healthier US Schools Challenge Program. To accomplish its goals, the program calls for schools to have:
The program also has the backing of major school food suppliers. Within 5 years, suppliers have agreed to reduce sugar, fat, and salt in their products. Suppliers have also committed to doubling the amount of produce they offer within the next 10 years.
Let's Move boasts some substantial partners, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, which will encourage pediatricians to check body mass index (BMI) during regular visits to determine if a child is at risk for obesity. This will also increase the success of preventative measures, which will curb poor lifestyle habits before they're ingrained.
Let's Move has also partnered with media companies, including Disney and NBC, to launch a public awareness campaign aimed at both parents and children. The campaign will highlight the dangers of childhood obesity and offer simple ways to live a healthy lifestyle.
On the campaign's website, LetsMove.gov, parents can print nutritious recipes and learn ways to help their families make better choices. And later this spring, the website will launch toolkits where families can outline their health goals, access exercise plans, and track their success. To learn more, visit LetsMove.gov.
Can Let's Move really change the lifestyles of individual Americans and reverse the obesity epidemic? That obviously remains to be seen. Most people, however, would consider Michelle Obama's initiative to end childhood obesity a worthwhile one. With type 2 diabetes rates rising in children, it's up to all Americans to set a good example for its youngest citizens. So read the labels, make healthy choices, and get moving.