Saturday, January 30, 2010

Michelle Obama Tackles a 'Big' Problem

Let's put aside any political differences for a moment and focus on one thing that we all know is a problem.

Recently, the First Lady announced that she will spearhead an initiative to tackle a growing epidemic - childhood obesity. I've talked about the fact that children are getting less exercise during school and we've heard statistics that kids are spending more time with digital media than ever before. In combination with the fact that junk food is easier to access now than at any other time in history, and we have a problem on our hands. Even those of us without kids have a vested interest in this because it will still effect us in indirect ways. Many of these children are going to end up with Type 2 Diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure and other medical issues. Socially, overweight children are also more likely to be ridiculed and feel left out, which may lead to self esteem issues. There are so many reasons why we, as a country, need to tackle this problem.

So, here's Michelle's plan: the fed will work with local officials as well as businesses and non-profit organizations to put phys ed and healthy meals back in schools, increase opportunities for children to be active, provide better information throughout communities about exercise, and provide more access to healthy & affordable foods. Though details won't be released until sometime in February, it sounds like multiple federal agencies will be involved (which could prove to be disasterous, but hopefully adventageous).

Nearly one third of all US children are overweight or obese. The US spends approximately $150 billion each year fighting obesity, while obese adults spend almost $1500 more per year on medical related expenses than those of a normal and healthy weight. A study was just recently done which found that most parents don't even realize when they're children are overweight. 

From what I've heard so far, I really like that this plan will not just reach kids in schools, but it will also reach parents and other members of the community through a higher focus on fitness and health in general. Hopefully we'll see even more farmers markets popping up around the country. Perhaps more cities and towns will host 5K run/walks or more opportunities to run half marathons will start showing up. Maybe some of the reported $650million in funds will be given to counties to create more running/walking paths, Rails To Trails could convert more abandoned train tracks into trails connecting communities. More cities may follow in the footsteps of Oklahoma City. So many great things could come from this. It's quite encouraging and since there has been increasing chatter around the country about the problem, I have faith that we will see some changes soon!

Questions: What do you think of all this? How would you like to see the funds used? Where would you like to see the efforts focused?

10 comments:

Leah Rubin said...

I agree with you-- I think it's a totally terrific plan. It also seems practical and workable. I'm so glad Michelle (we're very tight, you know) is addressing this!

Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest!

withoutadornment said...

I think that's really great that's she's doing something useful about this problem! It's one thing to tell people that they need to be healthier and not be fat, but another to teach them the necessary skills that will allow them to be healthier and lose weight.

Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest!

SueMac said...

Being a mom, I think it's a great idea. I'm pretty sure I heard on the news that education, once again, is going to get cut in the National Budget. And what's the first thing to get cut? PE and arts. Maybe kids would be more attentive in class if they had the 30 minutes of hard, running/play in PE. I do have to say, it's been nice teaching my daughter to make healthier food choices and running with her.

Katie @ Health for the Whole Self said...

From what has been released so far, I really like this plan. Like you mentioned, it's great that the focus is on children, their parents, and the community - part of helping kids get healthy is focusing on our entire society's attitudes and experiences with healthy living. Also, I really like that there is an emphasis on improving access to healthy and affordable foods. I dream of the day when organic fruits and vegetables are just as affordable and accessible as a McDonald's burger off the dollar menu.

Jocelyn said...

I knew she was doing something but I didn't know what the exact plan was. I really like it too. I am so said when i see these 9 year olds who are already obese. Its ridiculous. I hate when I see burger king and mcdonald advertising 2 for 1 deals on there burgers. I wish health food was cheaper and crap like that cost more!

Julie said...

Hi Lisa,
It is great that our first Lady is on a mission to help childhood obesity in our nation! Something needs to be done and hopefully she will have the power to get the ball rolling:) I do agree with some of Sue Macs thoughts on the annoyance of PE classes being cut out of the school curriculum! When I was growing up we had PE every single day...thank God! Kids really need to stay active and the 30 minutes during the school day helps a great deal:) Thanks Lisa!

Brandi said...

I really think this is a great idea and I'm looking forward to seeing precisely what Michele Obama's plan is. There's a lot that needs to be changed, and I believe that kids who exercise more and lead well-balanced lives do better in school and are more confident. I hope there's some way to get involved.

Jamoosh said...

How about some efforts on parenting? It seems that parents have taken to letting schools, day care, and video games raise their kids.

gracela said...

I partially agree with Jamoosh about parents taking a bigger responsibility in raising their own kids. The only problem is, there's a lack of education among the parents too! How many adults actually think that they are eating something "healthy" or "not so bad" when they totally aren't!

I think every state should follow NY and list the calories for every item on the menu. I definitely know that has helped me make better decisions if I HAVE to go to a chain. I rely on the calorie listings so much some times I freak out when I travel outside of NYC :)

Lisa said...

I agree, as well, that parents need to play a bigger role and that's exactly why I like this plan, because it aims to reach everyone, not just kids in schools. It's meant to reach everyone in the population.