NLC commended First Lady Michelle Obama for spearheading the administration-wide effort to combat childhood obesity announced last week. The First Lady's work will have an immensely positive effect on the nation's health and wellness.
The obesity campaign announced by the First Lady shows an understanding that municipal leaders need to play an important role in promoting nutrition and fitness in the nation's communities. It takes into account the need for a coordinated effort across agencies and across governments for there to be a meaningful impact on childhood obesity rates.
NLC member cities acted as representatives for cities nationwide at the event. Participating were Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone of Somerville, Mass., and Mayor Chip Johnson of Hernando, Miss.
"The obesity epidemic is killing our children," said Mayor Chip Johnson."We are very happy that the First Lady understands the role of municipal government in combating childhood obesity."
More than 12 million children and adolescents are considered obese, putting these children at higher risk of developing serious health problems later in life. This increase in potential health problems may cost governments, businesses and families $117 billion per year in future health care costs, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
"We are extremely honored to stand beside the First Lady to continue our work to reduce the incidence of childhood obesity in America," said Mayor Curtatone."I am proud that local initiatives will serve as models of best practices for communities across the country. We look forward to continuing our efforts under the First Lady's national leadership."
Through its Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, (YEF Institute) NLC works to combat childhood obesity by raising awareness among municipal leaders about actions they can take to reverse the obesity epidemic. With support from Leadership for Healthy Communities, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NLC has created a network of municipal officials committed to reducing childhood obesity.
This Thursday, February 18, the YEF Institute will host a free, hour-long audioconference to share strategies that city officials can implement to encourage healthy eating behavior, increase access to healthy food and promote physical activity for children and youth. The call, titled "Curbing Childhood Obesity: Lessons from the Six-City Community Wellness Project," will be held at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time. To register, visit www.nlc.org/iyef.
NLC has also partnered with the American Association of School Administrators to provide technical assistance to municipal and school district officials in six cities to develop comprehensive community wellness strategies and policies. The YEF Institute's action kit for municipal leaders on Combating Childhood Obesity outlines a broad range of steps city leaders can take to promote healthy eating, access to healthy food and active living.
For more information on NLC's work on childhood obesity, visit http://www.nlc.org/IYEF/youthdevelopment/obesity/