Thursday, September 9, 2010

President Barack Obama issued a Proclamation from the White House earlier this month declaring September “National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.” He said childhood obesity was a national crisis “with nearly one in every three of America's children being overweight or obese” and noted that obesity affects children in every state, that “particular racial and ethnic groups are more severely impacted” and that “obesity can be influenced by a number of environmental and behavioral factors, including unhealthy eating patterns and too little physical activity at home and at school.”

The President acknowledged that more must be done “to halt and reverse this epidemic, as obesity can lead to severe and chronic health problems during childhood, adolescence and adulthood, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and asthma.” Nearly $150 billion is spent annually on obesity-related medical conditions. “This is not the future” he added “to which we want to consign our children, and it is a burden our health care system cannot bear.

Partnership believes the Proclamation is a timely and important opportunity to remind Americans of the goals and accomplishments of the First Lady’s "Let's Move!" initiative to combat childhood obesity. “Let’s Move” is an historic public health campaign guided by the recommendations of a Task Force on Childhood Obesity which was charged with review of all programs and policies relating to child nutrition and physical activity and development of a national action plan to maximize federal resources and set concrete benchmarks that can end childhood obesity in a generation. The Task Force has produced a report containing a comprehensive set of recommendations and “strategies to address childhood obesity, including providing healthier food in schools, ensuring access to healthy affordable food, increasing opportunities for physical activity, empowering parents and caregivers with better information about making healthy choices, and giving children a healthy start in life.”

Reducing the incidence of childhood obesity will not be easy or quick. While this crisis has been building for three decades growing awareness and resolve across all sectors of our country provide hope that the President’s goal of reducing childhood obesity to 5% by the year 2030 is achievable.

“Our history shows that when we are united in our convictions, we can safeguard the health and safety of America's children for generations to come. When waves of American children were stricken with polio and disabled for life, we developed a nationwide immunization program that eradicated this crippling disease from our shores within a matter of decades. When we discovered that children were going to school hungry because their families could not afford nutritious meals, we created the National School Lunch Program. Today, this program feeds more than 30 million American children, often at little or no charge. When we work together, we can overcome any obstacle and protect our Nation's most precious resource -- our children. As we take steps to turn around the epidemic of childhood obesity, I am confident that we will solve this problem together, and that we will solve it in a generation.

Partnership for Prevention, the Congressional Prevention Caucus and the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association are sponsoring two Capitol Hill briefings on September 21 to broaden the awareness of legislators and congressional staff about the threat childhood obesity poses to our nation. The briefings, “Eliminating Childhood Obesity: Developing National Consensus on a Prescription for Change” will include presentations by some of the nation’s most distinguished medical leaders including:

Ursula Bauer, PhD, Director, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Joe Thompson, MD, MPH, Surgeon General for the State of Arkansas and Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Laura Hayman, PhD, RN, Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Nursing in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Boston

These briefings are open to the public. Anyone interested in attending can send their contact information and indicate whether they will attend the House or Senate briefing to


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