Posted by: BeneFIT Corporate Wellness
Date: March 12, 2012
“The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake.”
– First Lady Michelle Obama at the Let’s Move! launch on February 9, 2010
Let’s Move is an initiative aimed at the crisis of childhood obesity. While obesity rates have increased among the adult population over the last thirty years, today’s generation of children is particularly hard hit. Not only is obesity affecting the youth of our country at younger and younger ages, but earlier onsets of associated diseases such as Type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer are also expected for this age group.
The Let’s Move initiative is based on the following five pillars: 1) Creating a healthy start for children, 2) Empowering parents and caregivers, 3) Providing healthy foods in schools, 4) Improving access to healthy, affordable foods, and 5) Increasing physical activity. While the initiative is focused on children and teens, these pillars apply to all individuals by encouraging better choices related to food and physical activity. The obesity epidemic paints a bleak picture of the health and life expectancy of our youth so it is very important to identify tools to help communities fight against childhood obesity, and to empower everyone to live by example and encourage healthier behaviors for today’s children.
How did we get here?
Thirty years ago, Americans lived different lifestyles, especially related to food and physical activity: super-sizing didn’t exist, children needed to be called (from the porch, not on a cell phone) to STOP running around and to come INSIDE for dinner. Recess and gym were mandatory parts of almost every school day. Portion sizes were smaller, and walking was a more common activity. Families walked together after dinner or children walked to school. Adult activity wasn’t driven by gym memberships; yard work and housecleaning got individuals up and moving. Less snack choices were available and eating at a restaurant was a rare treat.
This isn’t the world our children live in today. Fast food has replaced the home-cooked meal for many busy families. Portion sizes tend to be two to five times larger than their counterparts 30 years ago. Instead of playing outside and moving around, children instead spend as much as eight hours a day on entertainment and media devices such as computers, video games and cellphones. Opportunities to provide physical activity in schools, such as gym, recess, and sports, are often among the first to go when facing budget cuts, and safety is the number one concern preventing many children from walking to school. Today’s soda bottles provide 20+ ounces of high-sugar beverage in a single sitting and the vending machine has replaced healthier snack options.
How do we get back to the way things were?
While it is not going to be an easy task, the Let’s Move initiative and its five pillars is set to help us empower today’s youth to be physically active and to make healthier food choices. The Let’s Move initiative is not just for children, or their parents, but for all of us. In addition to providing facts about Let’s Move, childhood obesity, and guidelines for physical activity and healthy eating, Let’s Move provides ways that YOU can “Take Action” whether you are a parent, a child, or another member of the community (including schools, elected officials, community leaders, chefs, and health care providers). Let’s Move’s customized, “Five Simple Steps to Success” will help you join the movement against childhood obesity.
The Let’s Move website, www.letsmove.gov provides simple steps that are easy and quick for adults, yet fun for children. Here is an example for parents: “Keep a bowl of fresh fruit within your child’s reach to grab as a quick snack” and to obtain the child’s attention, choose fruit and vegetables in a variety of colors.
There are even steps customized to encourage children to be healthy, like “Move everyday!” ideas to help children move include planning to participate in fun activities they enjoy or to encourage participation in the President’s Challenge, a physical activity, nutrition, and fitness award program. Another step for children that encourages physical activity: “Do jumping jacks to break up TV time.” Finally, a great step for children that encourages awareness of healthy food, and includes quality time for the whole family is, “Help make dinner.” Children can also help with the food shopping and with other healthy meals throughout the day.
Additional simple steps and steps for everyone in the community are available online. You can visit www.letsmove.gov or the following resource sites to learn more about the Let’s Move initiative, the simple steps, and what you can do to join the fight against childhood obesity:
Disclaimer: The information presented is for your general knowledge and does not replace the advice of a physician.