Shellie Pfohl, of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, addressed the summit to share some of the ways the US is working to ensure communities are providing youth the opportunities to lead healthy, active lifestyles through physical activity and nutrition.
After noting some of the issues already reflected in the American Report Card on the Physical Activity of Children and Youth (echoed by the results the other 14 countries who participated in the Global Matrix), we need better messaging of the role of Physical Activity as a positive gateway behaviour that has positive effects mental health, academics, behavioural issues and concentration; stated Pfohl, adding ”Physical Activity has so many more benefits than weight management” while also noting that we shouldn’t confuse a healthy weight with a healthy, active person.
First Lady, Michelle Obama has taken the issue of childhood obesity head on with her Let’s Move initiative designed to support ending Childhood Obesity in a generation.
How to do that?
- Create more positive associations and experiences with physical activity for kids
- Re-engineering physical activity into everyday life
- Make the healthy choice, the easy choice. Make health the norm
These goals are being supported by the following five pillars of the Let’s Move initiative:
- Create a healthy start for kids
- Empowering parents and caregivers
- Providing healthy food in schools
- Improving access to healthy, affordable food
- Increasing physical activities.
Along with reintegrating physical activity into everyday life, Let’s Move is also addressing the dual issue of food swamps (an overabundance of inexpensive, unhealthy, processed or junk food) and food deserts (no access to fresh, healthy affordable food within a reasonable walking distance).
Let’s Move is working with companies to help them improve the products they offer with an eye to health and active lifestyles just as it works with parents, caregivers and schools to make sure physical activity is supported and promoted.
These efforts are starting to show signs of real progress, for example Pfohl noted a 43% reduction in pre-school obesity over 19 states in the past decade. This is a start in an intended transformational cultural shift that will positively affect the entire family.
For more background information on Let’s Move and work in the U.S. on Childhood Obesity read the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report to the President: Solving the problem of childhood obesity within a generation.
Stay tuned to more from the summit!