It takes just one shout to hear an echo. Last month, First Lady Michelle Obama called out to the American public a message that she hopes will resonate among all sectors of our nation - Let's Move
, a national campaign to solve childhood obesity within a generation. The goal is to get Americans to adopt a lifestyle that includes healthier eating habits and increased physical activity. Over the last few decades, childhood obesity rates have tripled, with one in three children being classified as either overweight or obese. Sadly, experts predict that the childhood obesity epidemic, with its concurrent increased risk for the development of chronic diseases (e.g., diabetes and heart disease), will subsequently lead to a shorter lifespan for today's children compared to that of their parents.
Multiple factors have contributed to this dramatic rise including widely-available, inexpensive high-calorie foods and beverages, increased portion sizes, technological advancements that promote a sedentary lifestyle, and the creation of environments that make it difficult for individuals to make healthy decisions (e.g., lack of access to healthy foods). The Let's Move initiative has an ambitious objective, but one that can be achieved by a collaborative effort of citizens, government, parents, school systems, nonprofit and for-profit private organizations, and corporations. The key is education.
Education will empower Americans to make healthy lifestyle choices. This information has to be readily accessible, widespread, and "user-friendly" to all Americans. The Administration has partnered with representatives of both the public and private sectors to provide Americans with the support, tools, and information needed to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
The Let's Move campaign has facilitated changes and commitments from the following entities:
- Food and beverage manufacturers will change their front-of-package labeling format to provide easy access to the nutrient contents of their products.
- The medical community will start to prescribe healthy eating practices and exercise for their patients.
- Major media companies, such as the Walt Disney Company, will devise marketing strategies and create public service announcements and programming devoted to increasing the public's awareness about the obesity epidemic and what can be done to combat it.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture will update the food pyramid and provide citizens with a greater number of tools to help them follow the outlined recommendations.
- Major school food suppliers, such as Chartwells School Dining Services, will increase the number of whole grain foods and produce offered to students while decreasing the amount of sugar, fat, and salt in meals served.
- Professional athletic leagues, such as the NFL, MLB, WNBA, and MLS, will offer sports clinics and create public service announcements encouraging children to increase their physical activity through the "60 Minutes of Play a Day" campaign.
- The Administration will update the President's Physical Fitness Challenge to advocate a more active lifestyle. They will also implement strategies to create safer and healthier schools.
- Corporations will develop products aimed at helping citizens adhere to a lifestyle of healthy eating and regular exercise, such as PICKKA's "Shop to Lose."*
The current American lifestyle is literally "weighing us down." To "lighten our load" all sectors of our society need to get involved and work together to combat childhood (and adult) obesity. If changes are not made, the life expectancy and quality of life of future generations will be greatly reduced and, as a result, so will the progress and productivity of our great nation.
*On Thursday, March 18, 2010, I attended an online discussion hosted by PICKKA to learn more about their "Shop to Lose" product to be launched soon.
Note: Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.
Labels: Exercise is Medicine, Let's Move, The Surgeon General's Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation