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HHS Official, Dr. Koh, Joins Cambridge Officials to Celebrate 1st Anniversary of First Lady’s Campaign to End Childhood Ob

Posted Feb 07 2011 12:01am

Cambridge to Become Nation’s Newest “Let’s Move!” City

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard K. Koh joined Cambridge Mayor David Maher and other local officials at the Haggerty School to celebrate First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative. The campaign, which aims to end childhood obesity within a generation, was launched one year ago this week.

As part of the celebration, Dr. Koh – a Cambridge native, a former Massachusetts Commissioner of Public Health and a former Associate Dean for Public Health Practice at the Harvard School of Public Health – declared the city of Cambridge to be the nation’s newest Let’s Move! city. Cambridge officials committed their continued support of the city’s comprehensive approach to promoting healthier foods, increasing physical activity opportunities, helping parents make healthy family choices and making healthy food more affordable and accessible.

Cambridge is considered a national leader in healthy weight promotion and was lauded for creating a healthier environment for children through its innovative approaches to physical activity, offering healthier and locally grown foods in its school meals’ program, producing health and fitness progress reports, establishing school gardens in all elementary schools and developing model school nutrition policies.

The Cambridge ceremony is one of 18 similar events taking place across the nation to highlight progress achieved in the past year.

“Over the last year we’ve fundamentally changed the conversation about how we eat, how we move and how we get our food.  Communities across the country, like Cambridge, are implementing creative solutions to ending childhood obesity,” said Mrs. Obama.  “Together, we’re making a real difference in the lives of children and today there’s a real sense of hope that we can end childhood obesity.”

The Let’s Move! campaign has an ambitious national goal of solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation through a comprehensive approach by engaging every sector impacting the health of children. It seeks to put children on the path to a healthy future starting with their earliest months and years, give parents the information they need to make healthy choices for their families, provide healthier foods in our schools, ensure that every family has access to healthy, affordable food; and help kids become more physically active.

"We salute the heroes who are dedicated to reducing childhood obesity,” said Dr. Koh. “Cambridge has excelled in promoting and launching these elements into its 'Healthy Living Cambridge Kids’ program. We encourage more communities around the nation to lead by example."

Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled.  Today, almost one in every three children in our nation is overweight or obese. The numbers are even higher in African American, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native communities, where 40% of the children are overweight or obese. If we don’t solve this problem, one third of all children born in 2000 or later could suffer from diabetes at some point in their lives.  Many others will face chronic obesity-related health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and asthma.

Since the First Lady launched her initiative last year, individuals and organizations around the country have come together to develop innovative solutions and implement new programs.  Key accomplishments achieved in the first year of the Let’s Move! initiative include: 

  • For the first time in three decades, the President signed groundbreaking legislation (Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act) into law, allowing for changes people had sought for years, and enacting the most meaningful and comprehensive change to food in schools we’ve seen in a generation.
  • Walmart, one of the nation’s largest retail stores, announced a new Nutrition Charter that is designed to bring healthier and more affordable foods to the 140 million customers who shop at its stores each week. 
  • Sport leagues, including the National Hockey League, the US Tennis Association, and Major League Baseball, have teamed up with Let’s Move! to air public service announcements. Last summer we launched the Presidential Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.  Through this outreach, kids are inspired by their favorite athletes to play sports and get active.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics has pledged that 100 percent of its doctors will screen for BMI and we’re working with family physicians to measure BMI during Well Child visits.  The new Affordable Care Act right now requires all new health insurance plans to cover screening for childhood obesity and counseling from doctors without a co-pay or any other payment. 
  • And faith groups from all across the country have committed to walking 3 million miles and hosting 10,000 community gardens or farmers markets.
  • Nearly 500 communities across the country have become Let’s Move! Cities and Towns.  

To learn more about the Let’s Move! initiative and download action plans for communities, schools and parents, go to www.letsmove.gov .

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