First Lady Michelle Obama today unveiled the Childhood Obesity Task Force action plan to address the growing problem of childhood obesity. As a parent, I’m thankful that my toddler has a love of fruits and vegetables (including beets!). I’m fortunate that I live near several grocery stores with wonderful fresh produce, and that there are great parks in my neighborhood. Not everyone is so fortunate, and the action plan talks about critical changes that are needed.
Earlier today, I caught up with Colleen Doyle, RD, director of nutrition and physical activity for the American Cancer Society, who offered up the following thoughts on the new action plan:
“It’s been suggested that because of unhealthy lifestyles, this generation of kids will live a shorter lifespan than their parents – that’s a preventable tragedy that we cannot allow to happen. Our kids deserve better than that.
“The administration has elevated the issue of childhood obesity in a whole new way and to a higher level than ever before. They have laid out a bold, comprehensive strategy that includes action that will require involvement by everyone – from the government, to the private sector, to state and local leaders, to parents – to improve our kids’ health.
“The days are coming when all kids will be able to choose healthier foods and drinks at home, at school, in restaurants; when our kids will see more ads for healthy choices, and less ads for not-so-healthy choices; when more sidewalks and bike lanes will make it easier for kids to safely walk and bike to school, and where local parks will provide more opportunities for families to be physically active together; when parents, healthcare providers, teachers will all work side by side to help ensure a healthier future for our kids.
“If implemented, this plan will go a long way in helping our kids lead healthier lives.”
The American Cancer Society recommends that people maintain a healthy weight throughout life, which is why it’s so important that we address the issue of childhood obesity. The Society’s 2009 Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Facts & Figures says that being overweight and obese are associated with a higher risk for developing many cancers. In addition, it notes that healthy eating patterns are often established in childhood. The statistics are staggering, including these: “about half of youngsters who are overweight as children will remain overweight in adulthood; 70% of those who are overweight by adolescence will remain overweight as adults.”
Community action will be a key part of implementing this new plan and addressing the childhood obesity problem — what will you do in your neighborhood?