What do the President of George Washington University, the chair of the Mushroom Council, Mayor Cory Booker, Eli Manning, and the First Lady of the United States have in common? Each of these passionate individuals are dedicated to working with the private sector to ensure the health of our nation’s youth by solving the childhood obesity crisis. Held at the George Washington University, speakers came together at the keynote of the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit (PHA) last week to speak out about the work that needs to be done to foster healthy and active lifestyles for future generations.
One after another, speaker after speaker, championed the many reasons that we must take specific actions and hold each other accountable for fighting childhood obesity. Eli Manning, quarterback of the New York Giants said it most simply, “Our children need us.”
Mayor of Newark, New Jersey Cory Booker, an honorary vice chair of the PHA, spoke of “Sedentary agitation” where we know something is wrong but we do nothing about it. He went on to say that it is no longer a matter of “can we” but has become a matter of finding the collective will do to something about it. As a mom that has always struggled with her weight, this is not a message that is lost on me. Wanting my daughter to have the self confidence that I might have lacked because of my weight, and the strength and good health to face anything and everything, her nutrition and activity are hugely important to me. I walk a fine line between wanting to encourage her to make healthy choices and not wanting to make “less optimal” choices taboo, knowing that an extreme approach can backfire down the road.
But it is more than just about weight or a clothing size. It is about better health, longer lives, and futures that are not clouded with diabetes or other risk factors. The interconnectedness of good nutrition and increased activity ripple through our lives day in and day out. If we want our children, the children that will be future leaders in our society, to have access to their potential, we have to, as Mayor Booker said, “transform their health outcomes” through hard work and sustained efforts.
Just like I hope that children everywhere have a shot at reaching developmental milestones regardless of where they were born in the world, I want our children to be able to make every moment matter as they grow into healthy and active adults.
What can we do about the childhood obesity crisis?
First Lady Michelle Obama has been an outspoken voice in the fight against childhood obesity with efforts like Lets Move! and continuous work with organizations, corporations, and governmental agencies to transform the landscape that our children experience each day. But as she spoke about the realities of parenting and day to day life, that she understands the uphill battle that many families face each day to make the necessary changes. Realities like getting in and out of the grocery store in thirty minutes or not making our own health a priority because there is so much else to be done at work or around the house or for our children. But the truth is that our health matters not just to us, but for our families. The healthier we are, the more we can give our families. And…not just that…but empowering our children to lead healthy lives starts by modeling that behavior in our own life. Modeling good nutrition and active lifestyles has to be more than just in word only. We have to live it, feel it, and believe it.
The reality is that creating meaningful change will take effort. Effort on our parts in our own homes and efforts by companies and marketers to change the landscape that influences our choices. Companies like Disney have made the commitment to our children by cutting all advertisements for unhealthy foods during children’s programming, and Reebok is working with schools to increase participation in BOKS program, a before school fitness program that currently supports 250 schools and will service 750 schools by this fall.
See what else the First Lady had to say about what we can do to help build a healthier future for our children.
Focus, will, commitments, and partnerships…. with one goal of creating meaningful change to ensure better health for our children for the long run.
It may not be easy…but helping our children be the healthiest they can be, and helping bring and end to childhood obesity is one of those no brainer parental and societal responsibilities that we cannot ignore. From the PHA Summit to our homes, every day is a new chance to improve and make every moment matter…for us and for our children.
What about you? What challenges do you face in fostering good nutrition and encouraging fitness and activity in your children’s lives? Or better yet, what has helped you be successful in empowering healthy choices?
(Thank you to BlogHer for the opportunity to attend the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit as press.What a thrill it was to be among such passionate advocates for children!)