What is being done about the rising childhood obesity epidemic?
The OAC details two important advocacy initiatives and encourages each of you to get involved to help drive change.

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In today’s society, the awareness of childhood obesity has become more and more apparent. Perform a simple Google News or Yahoo! News search with the term “childhood obesity,” and you will receive thousands of results featuring articles discussing this disease. But, what is being done about childhood obesity? Well, that’s a good question.

As awareness builds, more and more organizations, states and well, just about everyone else, are beginning to target this disease with more passion and dedication. The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), for instance, has been involved in many childhood obesity activities and initiatives. It has always been the OAC’s school of thought that “you must first educate before you advocate.” The OAC has taken great pride in developing its childhood obesity resources, all available online at www.obesityaction.org. Okay, so we have the first part of the equation, the educational materials, finished. But, what about the advocacy?

Harkin/Murkowski School Nutrition Amendment to the Farm Bill

Recently, the OAC signed on to the Harkin/Murkowski School Nutrition Amendment to the Farm Bill, which tried to establish the types of food and beverage products that may be offered for sale in schools. The Amendment sought to ensure that healthier food and beverages were offered for sale in schools across the country.

Unfortunately, the school nutrition standards through the Harkin/Murkowski School Nutrition Amendment were not included in the Farm Bill.

More than 100 organizations and thousands of individuals across the country signed on to support the school nutrition amendment. The dedication and persistence of all those involved created a strong consensus of support throughout the Senate and House of Representatives for future efforts and initiatives. It is our hope that this legislation will be passed during a future legislative session.

Fitness Integrated with Teaching Kids Act (FIT Kids Act)

In addition, the OAC also signed on to the American Heart Association’s (AHA) FIT Kids Act. The Federal legislation would integrate regular physical education into the No Child Left Behind Act.

In early August, AHA endorsed federal legislation that addresses the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic by putting more emphasis on quality physical education (PE) and physical activity for all public school children. The FIT Kids Act would better integrate PE into the No Child Left Behind Act by encouraging schools to work towards the national goal of 150 minutes of PE per week for elementary school students and 225 minutes per week for students in middle and high schools.

It would also require that all schools, districts and states include the quantity and quality of PE in the “report cards” currently sent to parents. The FIT Kids Act was introduced in the House by Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI), Zach Wamp (R-TN) and Jay Inslee (D-WA).

The FIT Kids Act would also amend existing federal programs to get all parents, educators, counselors and administrators involved in teaching children healthy lifestyles. The bill also supports professional development for teachers and principals to promote children’s healthy lifestyles and physical activity and would fund research and a pilot program to study effective ways to improve healthy living and physical activity for all children.

As you can see, childhood obesity is a serious issue, and education, advocacy initiatives and legislation are all part of combating this disease; however, this fight requires proactive participation on the part of you – the parent, the caregiver, the school teacher, the doctor, the dentist… all of us. After all, if we cannot ensure the quality of health and life of OUR children, then OUR future is at stake.

To learn more about the AHA’s FIT Kids Act, please visit the association’s Web site at www.americanheart.org. To learn more about childhood obesity or keep up to date on the latest childhood obesity initiatives and activities, please visit www.obesityaction.org.



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