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Health > More Health StoriesWinter 2012 IS Magazine

Let’s Move!

National campaign gets kids active to fight obesity.

By Eric Shearer

“I remember when I was a kid, all my friends and I wanted to do after school was run around outside until dinner. And even then, we didn’t really want to come inside,” recalls First Lady Michelle Obama in a column about physical activity on “But now, with video games, the Internet, and entire TV networks geared toward kids, there’s a lot more competition for our children’s free time. And as we’ve seen more and more, when kids aren’t moving, when they’re not active, they’re less likely to grow up healthy – and it’s a significant factor in our country’s building epidemic of childhood obesity.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that obesity among 6- to 11-year-olds increased from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 19.6 percent in 2008. Among 12- to 19-year-olds, obesity increased from 5 percent to 18.1 percent. The first lady has made childhood obesity her signature cause, because it can contribute to a number of health problems for children now and in the future as they grow into unhealthy adults.

Studies indicate that obese children and adolescents have a greater risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, mental health issues such as social stigmatization and poor self-esteem, and adult health problems associated with obesity, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.

Obesity is the result of too many calories consumed and too few calories burned through physical activity. A big part of the solution is eating healthy, which is why the first lady has been at the forefront of efforts to increase access to fruits and vegetables in communities across America. She also promoted the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s switch from the outdated food pyramid to the new MyPlate guide to nutrition.

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