As September, National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, comes to a close, it is worth taking a look at the programs that have mobilized to address this critical issue – both nationally and right here at Strong Women, Strong Girls!
First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Let’s Move campaign in 2010 in order to combat childhood obesity.  A transformation in lifestyles over the past thirty years has left nearly one in every three American children as either overweight or obese.  Excessive weight puts our future generations at greater risk for diabetes, heart disease, high blood-pressure, cancer, and asthma.[1]  While it may be difficult to measure the success of Mrs. Obama’s efforts after only two years and while currently on the brink of an election, it is important to recognize the value in encouraging healthy lifestyles within any government.
Programs, like Let’s Move, encourage national improvements, such as more accountability and transparency in the USDA.  If more voters and officials demand organic meat and hormone-free eggs, then over time a cultural norm can develop; the majority of our food choices can be healthy instead of having one or two or five questionable alterations in them.  Creating a demand for better foods will hopefully lessen the supply of worse foods and lead to balanced, affordable options.  The USDA is also looking to make food labels more prevalent and user-friendly. While Michelle Obama’s campaign encourages national action, we must be aware of our own role in establishing a strong, healthy society.
Nutritional accountability largely resides at a local and individual level, because family, friends, and school are a child’s most influential models.  Let’s Move has online tools to help parents encourage healthy habits early. Nutritional knowledge has been evolving, and parents today may have never been taught how to eat healthy on a budget, why excessive add-ins or preservatives are bad, or how much after-school activity contributes to healthy longevity.
The Let’s Move campaign has sparked more movements, like Strong Women, Strong Girls’ Get Active!  The program attributes healthy habits, like thirty minutes of physical activity with mentors and free healthy snacks each week, as one facet of female empowerment and success; it encourages positive perspectives on being a well-rounded, internally healthy individual!  Encouraging a healthy body image takes precedence, and this can reduce the likelihood of smoking, depression, or drinking among young girls.
All of this educational information has created a movement away from sitting in front of the TV eating unhealthy food to a culture more inclined to walk the dog after a protein-packed dinner.  Initiatives like Let’s Move and Get Active are only the beginning in continuing to uncover the mysteries of the body and nutrition, and it is a scientific and cultural shift that will take many more years to master.
Check out this resource that helps families eat healthy on a budget.
Check out SWSG’s Get Active! resources page for some fun, simple exercises for girls.