Washington, D.C. (February 9, 2010) – First Lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday announced an ambitious national goal of solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight and unveiled a nationwide campaign – Let’s Move – to help achieve it.
The Let’s Move campaign (www.LetsMove.gov) mobilizes public and private sector resources in a comprehensive approach to address the epidemic of childhood obesity. It is meant to engage every sector impacting the health of children to achieve the national goal, and will provide schools, families and communities simple tools to help kids be more active, eat better, and get healthy.
President Barack Obama kicked off the launch by signing a Presidential Memorandum creating the first ever Task Force on Childhood Obesity which will include the DPC, Office of the First Lady, Interior, USDA, HHS, Education, NEC and other agencies. Within 90 days, the Task Force will conduct a review of every single program and policy relating to child nutrition and physical activity and develop a national action plan that maximizes federal resources and sets concrete benchmarks toward the First Lady’s national goal.
“That is our obligation, not just as parents who love our kids, but as citizens who love this country,” said Mrs Obama at the launch event. “So let’s move. Let’s get this done. Let’s give our kids what they need to have the future they deserve.”
Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled, and today, nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese. One third of all children born in 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lives; many others will face chronic obesity-related health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma.
A recent study put the health care costs of obesity-related diseases at $147 billion per year. This epidemic also impacts the nation’s security, as obesity is now one of the most common disqualifiers for military service.
“The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake,” said Mrs. Obama. “This isn’t the kind of problem that can be solved overnight, but with everyone working together, it can be solved. So, let’s move.”
The Administration, along with partners in the private sector and medical community, will:
• Empower Consumers: The Food and Drug Administration with retailers and manufacturers will adopt new nutritionally sound and consumer friendly front-of-package labeling.
• Provide Parents with a Rx for Healthier Living: The American Academy of Pediatrics, in collaboration with the broader medical community, will educate doctors and nurses across the country about obesity, ensure they regularly monitor children’s BMI, provide counseling for healthy eating early on, and, for the first time ever, will even write a prescription for parents laying out the simple things they can do to increase healthy eating and active play.
• Major New Public Information Campaign: Major news and entertainment media with increase obesity awareness through public service announcements, special programming, and marketing.
• Next Generation Food Pyramid: To help people make healthier food and physical activity choices, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will revamp the famous food pyramid. MyPyramid.gov is one of the most popular websites in the federal government, and a 2.0 version of the Web site will offer consumers a host of tools to help them put the Dietary Guidelines into practice.
• Empower Change: The USDA interactive database – the Food Environment Atlas – maps healthy food environments at the local level across the country. It will help people identify the existence of food deserts, high incidences of diabetes, and other conditions in their communities. This information can be used by parents, educators, government and businesses to create change across the country.
• LetsMove.gov: A one-stop website to provide helpful tips, step-by-step strategies for parents, and regular updates to help better understand and prevent kids from joining the epidemic of childhood obesity.
With more than 31 million children participating in the National School Lunch Program and more than 11 million participating in the National School Breakfast Program, good nutrition at school is more important than ever. The private, public and nonprofit sectors are taking steps to get healthier food in schools:
• Reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act: To fund the addition of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products in school cafeterias. Improve the quality of the National School Lunch and Breakfast program, increase the number of kids participating, ensure schools have the resources to make program changes and train food service workers, upgrade kitchen equipment, and for meal reimbursements.
• Double the number of schools participating in the Healthier US School Challenge.
• New Commitments from Major School Food Suppliers to help meet the Healthier US School Challenge goal.
• The School Nutrition Association, representing 75 percent of food service workers in, in joining the Let’s Move campaign, will work to ensure that nutrition programs in 10,000 schools meet the Healthier US School Challenge standards over the next five years.
• School Leadership: The SNA, National School Board Association, Council of Great City Schools and American Association of School Administrators Council have and committed have set a goal of every urban school meeting Healthier US Schools gold standard within five years.
Accessing Healthy, Affordable Food
More than 23 million Americans, including 6.5 million children, live in low-income urban and rural neighborhoods that are more than a mile from a supermarket. These communities, where access to affordable, quality, and nutritious foods is limited, are known as food deserts.
Lack of access is one reason why many children are not eating recommended levels of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. And food insecurity and hunger among children is widespread.
A recent USDA report showed that in 2008, an estimated 49.1 million people, including 16.7 million children, lived in households that experienced hunger multiple times throughout the year. The Administration, through new federal investments and the creation of public private partnerships, will work to:
• Eliminate Food Deserts: A Healthy Food Financing Initiative a partnership between the U.S. Departments of Treasury, Agriculture and Health and Human Services will invest $400 million a year to help bring grocery stores to underserved areas and help places such as convenience stores and bodegas carry healthier food options. Through these initiatives and private sector engagement, the Administration will work to eliminate food deserts across the country within seven years.
• Increase Farmers Markets: An additional $5 million investment in the Farmers Market Promotion Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture which provides grants to establish, and improve access to, farmers markets.
Increasing Physical Activity
Children need 60 minutes of active play each day. Yet, the average American child spends more than 7.5 hours a day watching TV and movies, using cell phones and computers, and playing video games, and only a third of high school students get the recommended levels of physical activity.
Through public-private partnerships, and reforms of existing federal programs, the Administration will address this imbalance by:
• Expanding and Modernizing the President’s Physical Fitness Challenge. New members to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports will be charged with increasing participation and with modernizing and expanding it to be consistent with the latest research and science.
• Doubling the Number of Presidential Active Lifestyle Awards: As part of the First Lady’s commitment to solve the problem of childhood obesity in a generation, the Physical Fitness Council will encourage both children and adults to commit to physical activity five days a week for six weeks, and double the number of children who earn a “Presidential Active Lifestyle Award.”
• Safe and Healthy Schools: The U.S. Department of Education will be working with Congress on the creation of a Safe and Healthy Schools fund to improve school environment, including efforts to get children physically active in and outside of school, and improve the quality and availability of physical education.
• Professional Sports: Professional athletes from twelve leagues including the NFL, MLB, WNBA, and MLS have joined the First Lady on the Let’s Move campaign and will promote “60 Minutes of Play a Day” through sports clinics, public service announcements, and more to help reach the national goal of solving the problem of childhood obesity in a generation.