Four years ago, Michelle Obama kicked off the Let's Move! Initiative with intent to help roll back the childhood obesity epidemic in our country. Today I joined a conference call with Sam Kass, Executive Director of Let’s Move!, to talk about how things are going. Just yesterday a study published in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical association, stated that obesity in children ages 2-5 has dropped a whopping 43% from 2003 to 2012. That's dramatic and incredible news for everyone around the country -- especially our youngest kids.
Despite the good news, a lot of work remains to be done. "We have a long way to go before we have a nation of healthy young people," Kass said. "Getting our children off to a healthy start is one of the most important things we can do." A large number of the things we're already doing -- and still need to do -- start in our school system, as First Lady Michelle Obama stated yesterday during an address to celebrate the campaign.
She highlighted three great points of how Let's Move! has changed our school systems for the better.
1. 90% of schools have met the new standards for school lunches. That's an incredibly high success rate and a great accomplishment for the schools in a year and a half. It is one that deserves a lot of praise and celebration. Additionally, while it means that our kids are eating better, healthier food, cities around the country are seeing a profit as more children are participating in the school lunch program. That's a win-win for all involved.
2. As pat of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, every school must have a school wellness policy. It includes things like goals for nutrition and physical activity during the school day and how that information must be publicly available. Additionally, the wellness policy also sets standards for what can be marketed in the school regarding unhealthy foods. If you can't sell it in the schools, you shouldn't be able to market it to the kids there. This coming fall, they will be pushing no junk food in vending machines and ala carte lines.
3. Low-income schools can now provide breakfast for all kids in those schools. This has the potential to serve over 9 million kids in over 22,000 schools across the country in giving kids the nutrition that they need. In the pilot programs going on across the country, they've seen improved test scores (17.5% better on math tests) and better behavior. A healthy breakfast is always vital to kids' learning.
You can also watch her speech here:
The First Lady went to Miami yesterday to announce a program with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the National Recreation and Park Association -- the two largest after-school providers in the country. 5400 clubs are committing to serving fruits and vegetables for snacks, non-sugary drinks, and giving them time to run around and play, to be active. These kinds of programs are vital to kids' well-being. As three hours when kids leave school and get home are the most important for helping kids make healthy food and activity choices, having Let's Move! be a part of these programs, with better food choices and more activity, the hope is that kids will get the point driven home even more.
While, as Kass said, a lot of work remains to be done to get kids on the right track towards a healthy lifestyle, I love that the Let's Move! program is in our schools and our programs, doing what needs to be done. I can only hope that we see an increase in happy, healthy children over the next decade, too.
Have you seen Let's Move! at work in your schools and programs with healthier lunches, more activity, less junk food and marketing for junk food, or healthier snacks at after school programs? Let us know!
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