First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled a plan to combat the growing problem of childhood obesity today, calling on communities across the country to renew their commitments to helping kids develop healthy eating and exercise habits.
The Let’s Move campaign endorses a multi-pronged approach to tackling childhood obesity, from supporting farmers markets and building sidewalks that make neighborhoods safer to walk, to encouraging kids to be more physically active, making school meals healthier and food labeling more accurate.
"I would move heaven and earth to give my kids all the chance in the world for them to be at the top of their game in every way, shape and form," Mrs. Obama told USA Today. "Let's Move operates under the principle that every family wants the same thing for their kid. So we're going to figure out how to make it easier for them to get it."
The first lady and other advocates in our nation’s capital are urging Congress to reauthorize the Childhood Nutrition Act, which would renew funding for federal nutrition programs such as free and reduced-price school breakfasts and lunches. Another proposal on the table: banning all soda and junk food from school meal programs.
Such bans would surely help reduce obesity rates – which have tripled in the last three decades, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. But we agree with Obama’s belief that lasting change will require a broad array of policies, including increasing access to healthy food in underserved communities. One of Mrs. Obama’s initiatives, pending congressional action, would offer tax breaks for grocery stores to move into poorly served communities.
Here in Washington state, the Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition, of which the Children’s Alliance is a founding member, is advocating for statewide policies that promote better nutrition in schools, add and enforce nutrition and physical activity standards in schools and early learning settings, and promote tax policy that reduces consumption of harmful products. Achieving these goals will:
- Increase the number of Washington children who are physically active on a daily basis;
- Improve access to and demand for healthy foods for all Washington children;
- Make it easier for families to be part of an active community.
We join the call for Congress to reauthorize the Childhood Nutrition Act. Ending childhood obesity will require strong and ongoing commitments from federal, state and local leaders. We owe it to children to continue pushing for policies that keep them healthy, well nourished and ready to learn.
- Maria Manza