Thursday, September 3, 2015

Feature: Let's Move!

The following content is courtesy of Let's Move! (a comprehensive initiative, launched by the First Lady, dedicated to solving the problem of obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams.)

Let's Move! aligns with Washington state's Healthiest Next Generation initiative with the goal to help our children maintain a healthy weight, enjoy active lives and eat and drink healthfully by making changes in early learning settings, schools and communities.
"The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake."
- First Lady Michelle Obama at the Let’s Move! launch on February 9, 2010 Obesity by the numbers

Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled, and today, nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese. The numbers are even higher in African American and Hispanic communities, where nearly 40% of the children are overweight or obese. If we don't solve this problem, one third of all children born in 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lives. Many others will face chronic obesity-related health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma.

How Did We Get Here?

Thirty years ago, most people led lives that kept them at a healthy weight. Kids walked to and from school every day, ran around at recess, participated in gym class, and played for hours after school before dinner. Meals were home-cooked with reasonable portion sizes and there was always a vegetable on the plate. Eating fast food was rare and snacking between meals was an occasional treat.

Today, children experience a very different lifestyle. Walks to and from school have been replaced by car and bus rides. Gym class and after-school sports have been cut; afternoons are now spent with TV, video games, and the internet. Parents are busier than ever and families eat fewer home-cooked meals. Snacking between meals is now commonplace.

Thirty years ago, kids ate just one snack a day, whereas now they are trending toward three snacks, resulting in an additional 200 calories a day. And one in five school-age children has up to six snacks a day.

Portion sizes have also exploded- they are now two to five times bigger than they were in years past. Beverage portions have grown as well- in the mid-1970s, the average sugar-sweetened beverage was 13.6 ounces compared totoday, kids think nothing of drinking 20 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverages at a time.

In total, we are now eating 31 percent more calories than we were forty years ago–including 56 percent more fats and oils and 14 percent more sugars and sweeteners. The average American now eats fifteen more pounds of sugar a year than in 1970.

Eight to 18-year old adolescents spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using entertainment media, including, TV, computers, video games, cell phones and movies, and only one-third of high school students get the recommended levels of physical activity.

Now that’s the bad news. The good news is that by making just a few lifestyle changes, we can help our children lead healthier lives–and we already have the tools we need to do it. We just need the will.

Let’s Move!

Combining comprehensive strategies with common sense, Let's Move! is about putting children on the path to a healthy future during their earliest months and years. Giving parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices. Providing healthier foods in our schools. Ensuring that every family has access to healthy, affordable food. And, helping kids become more physically active.

Everyone has a role to play in reducing childhood obesity, including parents, elected officials from all levels of government, schools, health care professionals, faith-based and community-based organizations, and private sector companies. Your involvement is key to ensuring a healthy future for our children.

Special Note:

Attention Child Care Centers and Homes: The Packard Foundation is partnering with Let’s Move! Child Care (LMCC) to award toolkits to support early care and education (ECE) providers in meeting LMCC’s goals. These toolkits include supplies and materials to directly support an ECE center’s or a home’s Let’s Move! Child Care Action Plan. The toolkits, provided by Kaplan, are valued at more than $100 per kit and will be a great help in achieving steps on the winning ECE providers’ Action Plans.

Centers and homes that develop an LMCC Action Plan on line between August 17 and September 18 will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win the toolkits. Ten programs will be randomly selected as winners. (Note: There can only be one winner chosen per center or home, so program directors, staff members, and leaders should complete their Action Plan together as a team.) The winners will receive toolkits (appropriate for the number of children they serve) with resources based on the top priority goal area from their Action Plan and will be contacted in the future to see how the materials have helped make positive changes in their center or home.

Note: ECE providers who developed an Action Plan on the LMCC Web site prior to August 17, 2015, will need to reenter the action plan information on the LMCC Web site between August 17 and September 18 to be entered into the drawing.

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