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Addressing Obesity

Rep. Sanford BishopFebruary 14, 2011 at 11:27 am

I want to speak to you about childhood obesity and its devastating impact on our communities.

This issue is critical to African Americans, where 18 percent of black high school students are obese, compared to 10 percent of whites; and 19 percent of black high school students are overweight, compared to 14 percent of whites.

Overweight and obese teens are at risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, arthritis, and breathing problems; and our children are disproportionately impacted.

In a recent report, “Too Fat to Fight,” over 100 retired generals and admirals wrote that obesity among children and young adults has increased so dramatically that it threatens not only the Nation’s health, but the future of our military.

First Lady Michelle Obama and a White House Task Force on Obesity issued a report with recommendations for reversing the obesity epidemic – setting goals, benchmarks, and measurable outcomes to tackle this crisis one child, one family, one community at a time.

Five goals must be implemented right away.

First, Giving Children a Healthy Start on Life by assuring prenatal care; breastfeeding; limiting TV time; quality child care settings; nutritious food; and ample opportunity for physical activity.

Second, Empowering Parents and Caregivers to make healthy choices for children through improved food labeling and menus; and reduction in the marketing of unhealthy products to children.

Third, Providing Healthy Foods for all school meals, upgrading nutritional quality of other foods sold; improving nutrition education and the overall health of the school environment.

Fourth, Improving Access to Healthy, Affordable Food by eliminating urban and rural “food deserts;” lowering the prices of healthier foods; making food products healthier, and reducing hunger.

Finally, Getting Children More Physically Active through quality physical education, recess, and more recreational opportunities.

All of us must join together to ensure that our children and our communities are healthy. Our nation’s future depends on it!

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