Produce for Better Health supporting First Lady’s childhood obesity initiative

Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) was delighted to hear the announcement of First Lady Michelle Obama’s plans to launch a major initiative on childhood obesity. Like Mrs. Obama, PBH has viewed the growing prevalence of obesity in both adults and children with increasing alarm, and we applaud her decision to help us turn the tide on this disturbing trend.

PBH shares Mrs. Obama’s concerns about the number of children who are overweight or obese, and therefore at increased risk for chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Obesity levels have more than doubled among adults and tripled among children and adolescents from 1980 to 2004. Currently, two-thirds of adults and nearly one out of every three children in the United States are overweight or obese.

PBH works with Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and other partners to reverse this trend by helping parents, schools and communities to raise healthy, well-nourished children. Our goal is to encourage all Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables for their better health. The foundation provides nutrition education materials, tips, recipes, and other information to encourage and support healthy lifestyle choices via the Fruits & Veggies-More Matters® national public health initiative.

“Michelle Obama has called obesity in this country a public health crisis that is threatening our children, our families, and our future, and I couldn’t agree more,” said Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D., president and CEO of PBH. “As a registered dietitian and a Mom, it is heartening to see our First Lady put the good health and good nutrition of all our children at such a high priority.”

The potential benefits associated with eating more fruits and vegetables are numerous. Eating plenty of fruits and veggies may help reduce the risk of many diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers. Being naturally low in calories and rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables help to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. They are rich in vitamins and minerals and other compounds beneficial to health that scientists are only beginning to understand. According to the USDA’s report, Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, fruits and vegetables are the foods that should be eaten most often. “What you eat is one of the most important decisions you can make each day to impact your health, and fruits and vegetables are the one area where most Americans fall short,” said Pivonka. “Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is a valuable step you can take to feel healthy and energized.”

PBH provides low-cost nutrition education materials to parents, schools, healthcare providers, and others through its nutrition education catalog, www.pbhcatalog.com, and as free, downloadable materials on its main website, www.pbhfoundation.org, and its consumer website, www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org.

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