"The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake."
- First Lady Michelle Obama at the Let’s Move! launch on February 9, 2010 Obesity by the numbers
Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled, and today, nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese. One third of all children born in 2000 or later will 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.
Kids today lead a very different kind of life. Walks to and from school have been replaced by car and bus rides. Gym class and school sports have been cut and are often replaced now by afternoons with TV, video games, and the internet. Parents are busier than ever and families eat fewer home-cooked meals. Snacking between meals is the norm, not the exception.
While kids thirty years ago ate just one snack a day, they are now trending toward three–so they’re taking in an additional 200 calories a day just from snacks. And one in five school-age kids has up to six snacks a day.
Portion sizes have also exploded. Food portions are two to five times bigger than they used to be. Beverage portions have grown as well. In the mid-1970s, average sweetened drink portions were 13.6 ounces. Today, kids think nothing of drinking 20 ounces of soda at a time.
The average American now eats fifteen more pounds of sugar a year than in 1970.
And the average American child spends more than 7.5 hours a day watching TV and movies, using cell phones and computers for entertainment, and playing video games, and only a third of high school students get the recommended levels of physical activity.
That’s the bad news. The good news is by making a few simple changes we can help our kids lead healthier lives–and we already have all of the tools we need to do it. We just need the will. Let’s Move!
We can solve the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight if we all work together. Through the Let’s Move! campaign—a comprehensive, collaborative, and community-oriented initiative that addresses all of the various factors that lead to childhood obesity—we are engaging every sector of society that impacts the health of children to provide schools, families and communities the simple tools they need to help kids be more active, eat better, and get healthy.