Children and Obesity

First Lady Michelle Obama is bringing some groundbreaking activity to the wellness movement – literally. It was almost a year ago that Mrs. Obama broke ground on a kitchen garden on the White House grounds, using local school children as helpers. She began to use the garden to illustrate concepts in proper nutrition and the role that healthy food plays in a healthy life.

Now, Mrs. Obama is promoting a nationwide program to reduce childhood obesity and thus reduce health problems. In the last thirty years, rates of obesity among American children have tripled. Almost 30 percent of children are currently either overweight or obese. One third of the children born in this decade will suffer from diabetes and many others will experience health problems that are often related to obesity such as heart disease, asthma, high blood pressure and cancer.

Nationally, the estimated annual price of obesity-related health problems is nearly $150 billion. Obesity among young people even threatens national security, as obesity is now a common disqualifier for military service and would impede a young person’s ability to enter many public service jobs such as firefighting or law enforcement.

For the first time in this nation’s history, children may average shorter lifespans than their parents. But it doesn’t take a lot of exercise to keep a child healthy. They only need about one hour of active and vigorous play every day. Where to find the time? Well, studies show that kids ages 8 to 18 devote an average of seven and a half hours to entertainment media, including video games, cell phones, televisions and computers. A long romp in the back yard with dogs, a bicycle ride, enrolling in soccer, swimming, track or other sports activities, even family outings like going canoeing or hiking would help accumulate the hour of daily exercise.

With Mrs. Obama’s help, community programs and clubs will be promoting the Let’s Move program to get local children engaged in more vigorous activity every day. The First Lady invites both children and adults to commit to regular physical activity at least five days a week. Celebrities in both men’s and women’s professional sports are joining the program through sports clinics and public information campaigns.

Parents and kids can find resources and discover ways they can contribute to this solution on the website

Source: White House website, First Lady Michelle Obama Launches Let's Move: America's Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids, February 9, 2010,
Source: Seeking Game-Changing Solutions to Childhood Obesity, February 4, 2010,
Source: Let’s Move, Physical Activity, February 22, 2010,