Posts Tagged ‘ childhood obesity ’

Michelle Obama, Congress Battle Over School Lunches

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Michelle ObamaChildren may already be out of school for summer, but their school lunches can’t catch a break.

First Lady Michelle Obama is fighting back after Republicans in Congress introduced a bill that would let schools opt-out of nutrition standards set in place in 2010. As part of a $143.5 billion Agriculture Department spending bill, schools will be given an extra year to comply with federal health standards that promote fruits, veggies, and whole grains and limit fat and salt.

“It gives schools an opt-out saying you don’t have to participate in the school lunch program because it’s hard,” Democratic Rep. Sam Farr of California told CNN. “Well, we don’t tell kids, ‘Look you don’t have to take math if it’s hard or science if it’s hard. You don’t have do P.E. if it’s hard.’”

Healthy doesn’t have to mean boring. Here are 25 ways to liven up your kid’s school lunch!

Last week, the healthy school lunch efforts suffered a setback when Democrats failed to get enough votes in committee to strip the language about school lunches from the proposed bill. This means the bill was sent to the House of Representatives for full consideration.

And the First Mom hasn’t been silent on the issue, either. Mrs. Obama often stays away from legislative issues, but when it comes to our kids, she has let her voice be heard.

“Remember a few years ago when Congress declared that the sauce on a slice of pizza should count as a vegetable in school lunches?” Obama wrote in a New York Times op-ed piece last week. “You don’t have to be a nutritionist to know that this doesn’t make much sense. Yet we’re seeing the same thing happening again with these new efforts to lower nutrition standards in our schools.”

“Our children deserve so much better than this,” she continued. “Even with the progress we have made, one in three children in this country is still overweight or obese.”

She has my support in this fight.

This isn’t about politics. Children have the right to the pursuit of happiness, and we can’t just sit by and watch that pursuit cut short due to preventable health issues.

As of now, 90 percent of schools already comply with these school-lunch standards. Standards that stop the promotion and sale of junk food in schools. Standards that require schools to provide REAL veggies and fruits instead of making it optional. (Even Elmo is helping the cause!)

In February, federal health authorities reported a 43 percent drop over the past decade in obesity among children ages 2-5.

“This generation is now entering our school system,” Executive Director of Let’s Move! and White House staffer Sam Kass said. “Our schools must be a place that really continue to foster and support their health and wellbeing, and that’s what this is all about.”

And while the argument can be made that the $10 billion of taxpayers’ money going into school lunches every year is excessive, just compare that to the $190 billion taxpayers shell out every year to treat obesity-related conditions.

But the fight for healthier kids is more than dollars and cents. A recent Atlantic article revealed most kids in a Los Angeles’ school system did not take a veggie from the lunch line, instead choosing a processed alternative.

If we know children who have the choice would pick sugary, processed food over healthier ones, why would we give them the option? As pointed out in the article, school cafeterias tend to give children what they want, and not what they need.

We are finally starting to tackle the childhood obesity epidemic. Why take a step backwards now?

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How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids

Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com

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Mrs. Obama: Stop Promoting Junk Food!

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

To mark the fourth anniversary of the Let’s Move! campaign, First Lady Michelle Obama is making the rounds to continue raising awareness of childhood obesity.

Tuesday morning, she made a major announcement that will impact the future of schools across the country. Mrs. Obama outlined new rules that will ban the promotion of sugary drinks and junk food in schools. The rules aren’t just limited to the cafeteria, either. Vending machines, posters, menu boards, and even scoreboards that feature unhealthy food and drinks will be phased out.

Companies spend $149 million a year marketing in schools, and 93 percent of that marketing is to promote beverages according to the USDA and reported by the Associated Press.

Companies will now have to start promoting their healthier options if they want to remain in schools. For example, Coca-Cola won’t be able to sponsor a high school football scoreboard if their logo for Coke is visible. Instead, Coca-Cola will have to use Dasani water or Diet Coke as an alternative.

“The idea here is simple — our classrooms should be healthy places where kids aren’t bombarded with ads for junk food,” the first lady said from the White House. “Because when parents are working hard to teach their kids healthy habits at home, their work shouldn’t be undone by unhealthy messages at school.”

There are some exceptions to the rules. Promotions regarding bake sales and other in-school fundraisers would be left up to the schools or states. Off-campus fundraisers, like a school night at a local fast food chain, would be allowed, but posters and flyers advertising the event would not be allowed in the school. Instead, an email would be sent to parents.

The proposed rules will first have to undergo a USDA-facilitation comment period. This will decide how long schools have to remove and replace current unhealthy promotions running on campuses. The rules are expected to take affect by the beginning of next school year.

Many companies have already started the transition, and the American Beverage Association is on board with the rule change. “Mrs. Obama’s efforts to continue to strengthen school wellness make sense for the well-being of our schoolchildren,” President and CEO Susan Neely said.

But helping kids make smarter choices doesn’t begin and end at school. Last fall, the campaign announced Sesame Workshop agreed to license some of their characters to the Produce Marketing Association to help healthier options appeal to children. Parents can also encourage their children to choose healthier options. Here are six easy ways to incorporate non-sugary drinks into your child’s routine.

Let’s Move! was launched in February 2010 to help fight the increasing rate of childhood obesity in America. The campaign encourages children to get active and make healthy eating choices. In the four years since the launch, new school lunch guidelines have been put in place and childhood obesity rates are beginning to fall. Large companies, government agencies, and local towns and counties have made an effort to encourage a healthier lifestyle.

Tell us: What do you think about these new rules? Do you agree that the marketing of junk food should be banned in schools?

Need more inspiration or help choosing healthier food options?? Download our free food substitutions guide!

Sesame Street Lessons: Limiting Sweets
Sesame Street Lessons: Limiting Sweets
Sesame Street Lessons: Limiting Sweets

Fine me on !

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Childhood Obesity: Amazingly, We’re Winning the Fight

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Even the researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were shocked: The number of children ages 2 to 5 who are obese has decreased by 43 percent, according to the latest large government study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In 2004, 14 percent of preschoolers had a weight problem, and the rate was only 8 percent in 2012. Experts believe that the drop may be related to the fact that more moms are breastfeeding (which helps babies learn to listen to their own hunger and fullness cues) and young kids are not drinking as many sugary beverages.

This is particularly great news because preventing a weight problem is obviously much easier than dealing with one. Children who are overweight or obese at age 3 to 5 are five times as likely to be overweight or obese as adults. It is certainly possible to help older kids slim down or at least slow their weight gain—especially when the whole family gets on board. But for parents of young children, the key is get into good habits and stick with them. You’ve heard plenty about the importance of eating more fruits and vegetables and being active, but also keep these three tips in mind:

Pour water. Make it the primary thirst-quencher in your family, rather than juice or soda. Of course, milk is important too. But avoid letting your toddler tote around a bottle or sippy cup filled with anything.

Just go outside. We are all struggling with the lure of screens. When kids get fresh air, they are naturally energized and eager to move around more. Even when it’s cold.

Don’t use food as a mood-booster.  I have been guilty of doing this with my own kids. However, if children learn to seek out chocolate or cookies or pretzels when they’re hurt or frustrated, they may do it throughout their life. Instead of offering a snack to distract your child, offer to play catch or join in the pretend-play game of her choice.

Use our Food and Recipe Guide to find quick and healthy meal ideas for your family.

How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids

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U.S. Open Tennis: Combatting Childhood Obesity

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

USTA youth tennis eventThis past weekend marked not only the end of summer, but the start of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. As we all know, childhood obesity is a growing problem in our country, caused by factors such as poor diet and sedentary lifestyle. Over Labor Day weekend, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) held an event to reveal that the physical inactivity of our youth has become a public health epidemic that they intend to help resolve.

Currently in the midst of the second week of competition for the U.S. Open tennis championships in Flushing, New York, the USTA also capitalizes on the tournament as a way to bring tennis to America, specifically our youth. The USTA has partnered with over a dozen organizations, including Partnership For A Healthier America, the Clinton Foundation, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, to get our kids active.

“Physical inactivity is estimated in 2009 to have killed about 5.3 million people due to chronic diseases across the world,” said Bill Kohl, Professor of Epidemiology and Kinesiology at the University of Texas and Founder and Director of University of Texas Physical Activity Epidemiology Program. According to Kohl, 80 percent of children around the world are not getting enough exercise for optimal health and it’s time to do something about it. After all, this generation of children is expected to live five years less than their parents.

Physical inactivity is a huge contributing factor to this calculation. “We as adults have engineered the opportunities for physical activity out of daily life—engineered this to a point where [kids] are sedentary and not physically active,” said Kohl. The recommendation from the CDC is that kids participate in 60 minutes of physical activity each day and, according to Kohl, even the best of physical education programs in schools are only able to provide a quarter of that.

The USTA has focused its energies on making tennis a more accessible sport for young players so they can get the exercise they need. “The primary reasons that kids are going to play sports is because it’s fun,” said USTA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alexis Colvin. The USTA has worked hard over the past year to develop what they are calling “ten and under tennis”—tennis for young kids using equipment and rules tailored to their size and experience to make the sport more fun to learn. Softer balls, smaller courts, lighter racquets and the elimination of rankings and tournaments for the under-10 age bracket are all part of the reformation.

“Can you imagine we had four-foot tall kids playing with the same ball and racquet as Roger Federer?” said Sue Hunt, USTA Chief Marketing Officer. “We’ve changed the game and it’s fun to play now.” Fun is what will keep kids engaged throughout their lives, keeping physical activity up and health benefits with it. The USTA also hopes to be a model for other sports so that children will become lifelong (but not necessarily professional) athletes.

Bob Harper, fitness expert and training extraordinaire of The Biggest Loser, seconds that. “The last thing I would want to see is a child in a gym on a treadmill,” he said. “What I want to see is the parents taking their kids on a weekend getaway of hiking and biking.” Making exercise fun truly begins at home. “We have to get our parents, not only getting our kids to be more active, but they need to be more active because our children watch what we do.”

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