Tag Archives: children

Michele Obama launches campaign to raise healthier children

ABC News reporters Sharyn Alfonsi and Christine Brozyna in the story “The Obamas fight against childhood obesity” write that First Lady Michelle Obama Pledges to Increase Number of Healthy Schools.

Childhood Obesity Battle Is Taken Up by First Lady – New York Times

First lady Michelle Obama: ‘Let’s move’ and work on childhood obesity problem – Washington Post

Michelle Obama says ‘Let’s Move’ on obesity in American kids – Christian Science Monitor

Fact Check: The cost of obesity – CNN

First Lady Michelle Obama Launches Let’s Move: America’s Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids – The White House

USA Today: Menu labeling works

USA Today reporter Steven Reinberg in the article “Listing calories of fast food menus cuts kids’ intake” writes that when nutritional information is available on fast-food restaurant menus, parents are more apt to pick lower-calorie foods for their kids.

Michele Obama Announces Plans to Combat Obesity and Support Healthy Choices

First Lady Michelle Obama, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin announced plans to help Americans lead healthier lives through better nutrition, regular physical activity, and by encouraging communities to support healthy choices. At a YMCA in Alexandria, VA, they talked directly with national and local leaders, parents and health professionals about reducing overweight and obesity in adults and children.

You can watch the full news conference here. Obama’s comments begin around 27:45 in the 45 minute video.

The First Lady recently announced that she will launch a major initiative on childhood obesity in the next few weeks and has asked HHS to play a key role.  The HHS released The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation this week .  In her first release to the nation, Dr. Benjamin highlights the alarming trend of overweight and obese Americans, and asks them to join her in a grassroots effort to commit to changes that promote the health and wellness of our families and communities.

“The surge in obesity in this country is nothing short of a public health crisis that is threatening our children, our families, and our future,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “In fact, the health consequences are so severe that medical experts have warned that our children could be on track to live shorter lives than their parents.  The paper released today is an incredibly important step in directing the Nation’s attention to solving the obesity epidemic and we do not have a moment to waste.”

The prevalence of obesity has more than doubled among adults and has tripled among children and adolescents from 1980 to 2004.  Currently, two-thirds of adults and nearly one in three children are overweight or obese.  Increased food intake, a sedentary lifestyle, and environments that make it difficult for people to make healthy choices but easy to consume extra calories, all contribute to the epidemic of overweight and obesity. This epidemic threatens the progress we have made in increasing Americans’ quality and years of healthy life.

“Curbing the obesity epidemic requires committed people and organizations across the nation working together to take action,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Today, we outline a vision for the nation that requires parents, neighborhoods, the medical community, employers, schools and individuals to take a coordinated and comprehensive approach to combating overweight and obesity.”

Additionally, many racial and ethnic groups and geographic regions of the United States are disproportionately affected. For instance, African American girls and Hispanic boys are more likely to be obese compared to non-Hispanic whites.  Among adults, American Indian and Alaskan native adults have the highest rates of obesity.  The sobering impact of these numbers is reflected in the nation’s concurrent epidemics of diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases. Researchers warn that if trends are not reversed, our children will be seriously afflicted with medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease in early adulthood.

“Americans will be more likely to change their behavior if they have a meaningful reward – something more than just reaching a certain weight or dress size,” said Dr. Benjamin.  “The real reward is invigorating, energizing, joyous health.  It is a level of health that allows people to embrace each day and live their lives to the fullest without disease or disability.”

The recommendations in The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation include:

Improving our communities – Neighborhoods and communities should become actively involved in creating healthier environments.  The availability of supermarkets, outdoor recreational facilities and the limitation of advertisements of less healthy foods and beverages are all examples of ways to create a healthier living environment.

Healthy Choices and Healthy Home Environments – Change starts with the individual choices Americans make each day for themselves, their families and those around them. Reducing the consumption of sodas and juices with added sugars; eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains; limiting television time; and being more physically active help us achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Creating Healthy Child Care Settings – It is estimated that more than 12 million children ages 0-6 receive some form of child care on a regular basis from someone other than their parents.  Parents should talk with their child care providers about changes to promote their children’s health.

Creating Healthy Schools – To help students develop life-long health habits, schools should provide appealing healthy food options including fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, water and low-fat beverages. School systems should also require nutrition standards and daily physical education for students.

Creating Healthy Work Sites – Employers can implement wellness programs that promote healthy eating in cafeterias, encourage physical activity through group classes and create incentives for employees to participate.

Mobilizing Medical Communities – Medical care providers must make it a priority to teach their patients about the importance of good health. Doctors and other health care providers are often the most trusted source of health information and are powerful role models for healthy lifestyle habits.

To view The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation, visit www.surgeongeneral.gov

Foods Advertised to Children on TV Remain Nutritionally Poor, Despite Industry Pledge

A new study by Children Now reveals the failure of the food and beverage industry’s “Better-for-You” initiative to achieve promised improvements in the nutritional quality of foods advertised to children.

The report raises serious doubt about the future viability of industry self-regulation to help address the growing epidemic of childhood obesity.

In 2007, major food companies such as Kellogg, General Mills, ConAgra and PepsiCo banded together and pledged to stop advertising unhealthy foods to children.

Children Now’s report, The Impact of Industry Self-Regulation on the Nutritional Quality of Foods Advertised on Television to Children, holds the industry accountable to its promise.

Despite a major effort at self-regulation, nearly three out of four (72.5%) of the foods advertised on television to children are for products in the poorest nutritional category. Known as “Whoa” foods, these products should be consumed only on “special occasions, such as your birthday,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Advertising for truly healthy foods, such as vegetables and fruits, known as “Go” products, is virtually invisible. Commercials for such foods account for only 1% of all food advertising to children.

“We cannot win the battle against childhood obesity as long as we continue to allow the industry to bombard children with ads for foods that they really shouldn’t eat very often,” said Dr. Dale Kunkel of the University of Arizona, who conducted the study for Children Now. “Other countries have already put a stop to this type of commercial exploitation, and it’s time for the U.S. to act more responsibly to protect the health of the nation’s children.”

Another key finding of the study is that food marketers increasingly use licensed characters to promote foods of the poorest nutritional quality to children. Nearly half of all food ads with popular children’s characters (49%), such as SpongeBob SquarePants, are for so-called “Whoa” products that pose the greatest risk for obesity.

“Using licensed characters to sell unhealthy foods to children is an unfair practice, and has to be stopped,” said Ted Lempert, president of Children Now.

A strong body of existing research, including a 2006 research review by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, concludes that children’s expo­sure to television advertising for non-nutritious food products is a significant risk factor con­tributing to childhood obesity.

Amidst the resulting increase in public concern, the food and beverage industry pledged to voluntarily reduce the advertising of unhealthy foods to children through the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative.

Sixteen of the nation’s top food companies–Kellogg, Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola, Cadbury Adams, Campbell Soup, McDonald’s, ConAgra Foods, Dannon, General Mills, Burger King, Hershey, Mars, Post, PepsiCo, Nestle and Unilever–participate in the initiative.

The study, funded by The California Endowment, provides the first inde­pendent, comprehensive evaluation of the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Ini­tiative and its impact on the children’s food marketing environment on television.

“We have given the industry time and opportunity to address this issue,” said Jeff McIntyre, director of national policy for Children Now. “Unfortunately, the research indicates that their pledges have failed our children. We cannot afford to wait, since advertising has been identified as a key factor contributing to childhood obesity. We need strong regulation to address this quickly and aggressively.”

The Impact of Industry Self-Regulation on the Nutritional Quality of Foods Advertised on Television to Children is available for free online here.

Government Action is Needed to Reduce Obesity

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York writes in the New York Daily News an article “With millions of kids obese, its time the feds got fed up” noting that the government can take smart steps to give all kids the healthy start they need to reach their full potential.

Rates of Severe Childhood Obesity have Tripled

 In the last 25 years, rates of severe childhood obesity in the US have tripled, putting increasing numbers of children at risk for diabetes and heart disease, says a new study.

Researchers looked at National Health and Nutrition Survey data on 12,384 youths, ages 2 to 19 years, and found that the prevalence of severe obesity increased from 0.8 percent in the period from 1976 to 1980 to 3.8 percent in 1999 to 2004. Severe obesity correlates to a body mass index that’s equal to or greater than the 99th percentile for age and gender.

The finding could mean that 2.7 million children in the United States are severely obese, the researchers said.

Black and Mexican-American children had the largest increases in severe obesity, along with children in families below the poverty level. For example, the percentage of severely obese Mexican-American children rose from 0.9 percent to 5.2 percent.

The researchers also found that a third of severely obese children had metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors for diabetes, stroke and heart attack. The risk factors include high blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin levels.

The study appears online in Academic Pediatrics.

“Children are not only becoming obese but becoming severely obese, which impacts their overall health,” Dr. Joseph Skelton, an obesity expert at Brenner Children’s Hospital, part of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., and lead author of the study, said in a news release from the center.

“These findings reinforce the fact that medically based programs to treat obesity are needed throughout the United States, and insurance companies should be encouraged to cover this care,” Skelton said.

Obesity in Children and Sleep Disorder

HealthDay reporter Jennifer Thomas in the article “Obesity may play a role in sleep-disordered breathing, researchers say” notes that children with chubby bellies are more likely to have sleep-disordered breathing, a condition that’s associated with behavioral problems, hyperactivity and difficulty staying awake at school.