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Michelle Obama's Let's Move Obesity Challenge Launches Today

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2010-02-09 13:21

In a news conference Tuesday at the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama introduced a national effort to combat childhood obesity called The Let’s Move Campaign. The program will focus on what families, communities, and the public and private sectors can do to help fight childhood obesity.

It started off being personal – Mrs. Obama received a startling message from the family pediatrician that her children were starting to get off-track with their weight and warned her to get it under control before it caused health problems. She relays in a message in early January “In my eyes, I thought my children were perfect. I didn’t see the changes.”

Parents not recognizing weight gain in their children is very common – and not a sign that the family is being inattentive to their children. Doctors across the country see parents who are just not knowledgeable about appropriate weight standards for children, or about basic health and nutrition practices that can prevent excess weight gain. In a 2007 national poll from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, parents were asked to report on their oldest child’s height and weight, and gauge whether or not it was a healthy size for their age. About 40% of parents of obese children ages 6 to 11 perceived their children’s weight status to be “about the right weight.”

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Unfortunately, however, it is estimated that about 17% of American kids and teens are obese and one-third are overweight. Adding to the issue is that doctor visits are often too short to allow a physician to tactfully and appropriately work out a detailed, practical nutrition plan. Schools are also caught in a predicament – nutrition programs are under a tight budget without a lot of resources of education for children to learn about healthy choices and appropriate serving sizes.

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