“The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake.” These are the words that launched the ‘Let’s Move’ campaign more than three years ago. With childhood obesity a growing problem in North America, the first lady hopes to help families eat better and live longer.
The reasons for the growing rate of childhood obesity are complex. Children tend to exercise less and eat more junk food and processed food. Some neighborhoods have no access to fresh fruit and vegetables while some families cannot afford better nutrition. There are many other reasons too, here are some from the ‘Let’s Move’ website:
“Thirty years ago, kids ate just one snack a day, whereas now they are trending toward three snacks, resulting in an additional 200 calories a day. And one in five school-age children has up to six snacks a day.
Portion sizes have also exploded- they are now two to five times bigger than they were in years past. Beverage portions have grown as well- in the mid-1970s, the average sugar-sweetened beverage was 13.6 ounces compared to today, kids think nothing of drinking 20 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverages at a time.
In total, we are now eating 31 percent more calories than we were forty years ago–including 56 percent more fats and oils and 14 percent more sugars and sweeteners. The average American now eats fifteen more pounds of sugar a year than in 1970.”
This has resulted in one in three students being obese. When you look at the African American and Hispanic demographics, that figure rises to 40% of children. The consequences of obesity are dire with most of these obese children succumbing to diabetes at some point in their lives while others will also have heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and asthma as a consequence of obesity.
The ‘Let’s Move’ campaign helps students to get more exercise and eat healthier. The first lady has already instituted more nutritious meals in schools and a range of activities for adults and students. You can get all the information you need on how to add more nutrition to your diet and where to get healthy food by clicking here.
Students have to be active for 60 minutes a day at least five days a week. To encourage activity, schools are offering more physical education classes, activities before and after school as well as recess activities.
Adults are encouraged to take on the challenge too and do 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week. Activities are encouraged and supported through the program at schools and in communities as we strive to create a culture of healthy living.
The idea of the ‘Let’s Move’ campaign is to have fun while becoming more active. You don’t have to join a gym or do an exercise class – you can play a game of ball or go for a walk around your neighborhood. For suggestions and information on how to get moving, click here.