About 3 years ago, this was a large deal with the First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS) responding to an article I wrote for a local fitness magazine, since shuttered.
E X A M I N E D
by Steve Johnson
Health, Fitness, Diet, Nutrition, Sports, Family, and Community are the seven core concepts of this magazine. Childhood obesity is a national problem that has roots in every facet of our lives. The issue has reached the highest levels of government and led by our President Barack Obama and First Lady, Michelle Obama. What follows is some of what the President had to say on the matter recently.
“Across our country, childhood obesity has reached epidemic rates and, as a result, our children may live shorter lives than their parents. Obesity has been recognized as a problem for decades, but efforts to address this crisis to date have been insufficient. Nearly one third of children in America are overweight or obese — a rate that has tripled in adolescents and more than doubled in younger children since 1980. One third of all individuals born in the year 2000 or later will eventually suffer from diabetes over the course of their lifetime, while too many others will face chronic obesity-related health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma. Without effective intervention, many more children will endure serious illnesses that will put a strain on our health-care system. We must act now to improve the health of our Nation’s children and avoid spending billions of dollars treating preventable disease.”
The healthcare debate has raged in Washington and the nation for the past year in earnest, and in some form for the past 60 years. While there is not much agreement on how to proceed, there is broader agreement to reverse the cycle of disease that affects children. The First Lady has been in front of this issue, making speeches and personal visits to spread the word of a fit lifestyle and to make better choices for everyone, especially children. The new federal website, www.letsmove.gov designed to empower parents to make better choices with the knowledge and encouragement necessary to succeed. www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/ assessing/bmi/” Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems. For example, a girl, 14 years, 11 months who is 5 foot 3 ½ inches tall and 145 lbs would be considered overweight, and as such, needs to be monitored closely so the girl does not become obese. Increased physical activity and less FaceBook activity create win- win events for everyone.
MyPyramid.gov is a tool for parents and kids to encourage nutritious options as part of a healthy family unit. My Foodapedia, which is a search tool for food information, is quite helpful to distill calories and the Mypyramid food groups. For example, I put in Baby Back Ribs, (because that’s what I like), it relates to BBQ short ribs with sauce. 4 medium ribs provided ½ ounce of the Grain group out of 6 oz. and 3 ½ ounces of the Meat & Beans group out of 5 ½ oz. Mypyramid plan give a general food guide based on age, sex, physical activity, even height and weight. The Mypyramid menu plan gives specificity to a menu plan (not to replace a healthcare professional or registered dietician). Mypyramid tracker provides information on your diet quality, physical activity status, and related nutrition messages as a method of documenting progress towards set goals. More from the President:
“I have set a goal to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight. The First Lady will lead a national public awareness effort to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity. She will encourage involvement by actors from every sector to help support and amplify our work in improving the health of our children. Strategies include updating child nutrition policies in a way that addresses the best available scientific information, ensuring access to healthy, affordable food in schools and communities, as well as increasing physical activity and empowering parents and caregivers with the information and tools they need to make good choices for themselves and their families. They will help our children develop lifelong healthy habits, ensuring they reach their greatest potential toward building a healthier and more prosperous America.”
The National Football League has taken the White House’s vision of more active America’s children by putting the weight of the brand and league behind physical activity at NFLrush.com. NFL PLAY 60 is the league’s movement for an active and healthy generation, encouraging kids to play for 60 minutes every day in order to tackle childhood obesity. Throughout the 2009 NFL Season, each game had a minimum of one advertising spot promoting the program that included some of the 1,696 best football players in the world including Steve Smith #89, Jordan Gross #69, and John Beason #52 of the Carolina Panthers and Hines Ward of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Carolina Panthers is one of the league teams that embraced the concept of active youths to include Elementary and Middle School children. An active kid is generally a healthy one, and as parents, is this not what we want for them?
Steve Johnson was an obese kid who turned out to be an obese adult.
This was from the MARCH 2010 issue of the now defunct CHFMONTHLY.COM pages 14–15.