LatinaLista -- Childhood obesity is a BIG problem in the Latino community that is only getting worse. The severity of the problem was underscored this morning with President Obama signing a presidential memorandum establishing the first-ever government-wide Task Force on Childhood Obesity.
In hand with that task force is a newly launched national campaign called Let's Move!
Spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama, the Let's Move initiative combats childhood obesity on several fronts: by improving the quality of school cafeteria food, eliminating within 7 years those areas of the country designated as "food deserts," increasing participation in the Presidential Physical Fitness Challenge and raising awareness of childhood obesity and what families can do about it.
At a noon White House press conference, the First Lady revealed some key components of the "Let's Move" initiative:
We've been working with the FDA and several manufacturers and retailers to make our food labels more customer-friendly. In fact, just today, the nation's largest beverage companies announced that they'll be taking steps to provide clearly visible information about calories on the front of their products - as well as on vending machines and soda fountains.
We're also working with the American Academy of Pediatrics, supporting their groundbreaking efforts to ensure that doctors not only regularly measure children's BMI, but actually write out a prescription detailing steps parents can take to keep their kids healthy and fit.
...We'll increase participation in the President's Physical Fitness Challenge. And we'll modernize the challenge, so it's not just about how athletic kids are - how many sit-ups or push-ups they can do - but how active they are. We'll double the number of kids who earn a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award in the next school year, recognizing those who engage in physical activity five days a week, for six weeks.
...a new, independent foundation has been created to rally and coordinate businesses, non-profits, and state and local governments to keep working until we reach our goal - and to measure our progress along the way. It's called the Partnership for a Healthier America, and it's bringing together some of the leading experts on childhood obesity.
Let's Move! is a fully interactive site where parents can find tips and step-by-step strategies to help their families maintain a healthy weight. So, it's not surprising the site includes healthy recipes, exercise plans, charts to track a family's progress, grocery shopping templates and links to the US Department of Agriculture's own interactive components like the revised Food Pyramid and the Food Environment Atlas - that maps healthy food environments at the local level across the country. It helps people identify the existence of food deserts, high incidences of diabetes, and other conditions in their communities.
The intent of the Let's Move! initiative is that it's here for the long-term. The First Lady reiterated that point by saying, "...we know we won't get there this year, or this Administration. We know it'll take a nationwide movement that continues long after we're gone."
However, how long it takes depends on how serious people take this issue -- and it's an issue that deserves to be taken seriously.