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Nutrition Column

Letís Move! Initiative

            Childhood obesity continues to rise in our society. In fact, the increase has been linked with the emergence of adult diseases in our children; particularly type 2 diabetes mellitus (formerly known as adult-onset diabetes mellitus). 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 early  March 2010 to help Americans lead healthier lives through better nutrition, regular physical activity, and by encouraging communities to support healthy choices.
            Since the 1980ís, obesity among children has close to tripled. Presently 17.1 percent of our youth are overweight with another 16.5 percent considered at risk for becoming over weight. Much of this increase has been linked to a lack of regular exercise and poor eating habits. Obesity and overweight not only have a detrimental physical consequence on our children, but creates a life-long emotional burden on the individual Ė one they often struggle with daily taking away from a pleasurable life. In addition, America as a nation spends over $150 Billion annually to treat obesity-related illness.
            Surgeon General Dr. Benjamin released the HHS Childhood Overweight and Obesity Prevention Initiative. Coinciding with the initiative, First lady Obama announced her Letís Move! Initiative, whose goal is to wipe out the childhood obesity epidemic within one generation. Both programs are geared to help kids get and remain active, incorporate education and parent support, and provide healthier foods in school and in the marketplace. Hopefully, both programs become successful and raise awareness of the importance of diet and exercise in obesity and disease prevention.

Written by Eric Sternlicht, Ph.D. Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA.