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Childhood Obesity

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The White House released a statement today that effectively announced a national emergency while also declaring war.   Our great tragedy is the physical health of our children and our foe is the lifestyle that has created such a problem.  If something is not done to change this trend, we could actually see the average lifespan decrease in the next generation.  Health care could turn into a nightmare as the incident rates for heart-related illness and diabetes skyrocket.

The first question we ask ourselves is, of course, “Why is this happening?”  In a world so intently focused on progress, how have we let this issue get out of hand?  As with all national matters, the answer isn’t exactly cut and dry.  A number of factors can be cited, and that is exactly why new efforts have to be unilateral.

What has been established in the wake of recent developments is an initiative known simply as “Let’s Move.”  Our First Lady, Michelle Obama, has become the national spokesperson.  Here’s the skinny:

It has been determined by the powers that be (which I agree with) that there should be four primary areas of focus in order for Let’s Move to really be effective:  Healthy Choices, Healthier Schools, Physical Activity, and Accessible & Affordable Healthy Food.

A large part of making better choices is having better information.  As you might have guessed, the consumer needs more than just a food pyramid these days.  Along with revamping this outdated system, there are plans by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make product packaging more straightforward.  More importantly, though, is the aim to encourage education throughout households.  Everything starts with parents, and convincing them to change is priority one.

The war inside school cafeterias has been waged for years.  The debate, as always, is where is the line between what is good for the kids and what they actually want for lunch.  I, ashamedly, admit to subsisting on a diet of fries, pizza, and chicken fingers for the better part of my prep years.  Knowing what I know now, I would have done things differently, but a ramped up metabolism and a semi-active lifestyle is enough for most teenagers to be indifferent about such things.  If change is to take hold, a revamp of school menus will have to be accompanied by convincing information that communicates the “why” portion.  Once again, family endorsement is a key factor to success.

A lack of physical activity is plaguing more than just children.  With our hectic schedules and modern conveniences, we are moving less and less.  It now takes a trip to the gym or a specialized exercise routine to keep our bodies in check.  Why then, is it a surprise that the next generation is getting off to a bad start?  Physical Education needs to make a comeback in our schools.  Anything that gets everyone moving is a step in the right direction.  At home, video games and computers have to be balanced with some good old fashioned outside time.

This last part is a bit trickier than the rest.  There appears to be a direct link between low-income families and unhealthy diets.  In large part, this is due to the fact that fast food has become an affordable and convenient staple for many of these families.  Let’s Move refers to such communities as “food deserts.”  Space has been reserved in the President’s 2011 budget to provide healthy and convenient options in target areas.

So that about wraps it up.  If you want to learn more about this new campaign, please read The Official White House Statement and check out the Let’s Move site!

DoGood!

Matt

Please email me with any questions, comments, or stories on how you are doing good! matt@DoGoodedness.com

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