The Let's Move Initiative: Fighting Childhood Obesity

First Lady Michelle Obama is leading a fight against childhood obesity through the Let's Move campaign. The multi-faceted effort is a continuation of Mrs. Obama's concerted attempt to draw attention to the wellness of America's children and encourage healthy behavior. With Let's Move, the emphasis is on combating an epidemic that, if left unchecked, could cost the nation in myriad ways for generations to come.

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Costs of the Obesity Epidemic

According to a 2007-2008 survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 34% of adults in the United States are not just overweight, but obese. There are 12.5 million obese children between the ages of two and 19, including 20% of all children between six and 11 years old. As of 2010, no state in the country had an obesity rate below 20%.

In children, obesity is a major cause of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, asthma, gallstones, low self-esteem and a multitude of other problems. Obese children are more likely to have severe weight problems as adults. They're also highly likely to suffer from heart disease, some cancers and diabetes. Furthermore, the childhood obesity epidemic poses a national security threat, as obesity has become a leading disqualifier for military service.

Let's Move Steps Up

The Let's Move campaign was born out of a discussion Mrs. Obama had with students from Washington, D.C.'s Bancroft Elementary School as they broke ground on the White House Kitchen Garden in 2009. She spoke with the students about nutrition and the benefits of proper nutrition on a healthy lifestyle. Recognizing the need for a comprehensive effort to help children avoid weight problems, Mrs. Obama kicked off the Let's Move campaign by setting a goal of solving the obesity epidemic within a generation.

Let's Move has five pillars that incorporate all of those who play a role in solving the epidemic. They include creating a healthy start for children, empowering parents and caregivers, providing healthy food in schools, improving access to healthy, affordable foods and increasing physical activity. In addition to families, others targeted by Let's Move to do their part include elected officials, faith and community-based organizations and private companies.

Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle

The website for Let's Move provides a plethora of information for families, schools, chefs, elected officials and others throughout local communities. For example, one section is focused on food and nutrition. There are tips, advice and links for helping people make healthy eating decisions throughout life. It begins with moms taking an active role in the health of their babies. In addition to recommendations for how pregnant women can eat well, the campaign supports breastfeeding, as breastfed children are 22% less likely to become obese than those who are formula-fed.

Beyond the resources on the Let's Move website, the campaign has a variety of ways for people to get involved. For example, there are Let's Move meet-ups in a rapidly growing list of cities throughout the country; these events are a chance for community members to focus on childhood obesity at the local level, whether it's a town hall meeting or a healthy cooking class. Ultimately, Mrs. Obama's campaign seeks to tackle childhood obesity from every possible angle in order to reach its ambitious goal.

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