NLC Joins First Lady in Announcing New Initiative to Support Let's Move! Cities, Towns and Counties

July 18, 2012

Michael Karpman

At an event held this morning in Philadelphia, NLC President Ted Ellis, mayor of Bluffton, Ind., joined First Lady Michelle Obama and other city leaders to announce a new NLC project that will help local elected officials reduce childhood obesity.  As part of this project, NLC is leading efforts to enhance the work of Let's Move! Cities, Towns, and Counties (LMCTC), a key component of the First Lady's comprehensive Let's Move! initiative, which is dedicated to reversing the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation.

The First Lady thanked NLC for taking the lead to coordinate implementation of these efforts and urged local officials to continue building on their progress. "Every day, local officials like these are changing our children's lives and helping them learn and grow and fulfill every last bit of their potential.  And thanks to the commitments we're announcing today, our cities, towns and counties will be able to do even more," said the First Lady. "We still have a long way to go to solve this problem.  But if leaders like these keep coming to the table and we all keep working together, then I am confident that we can give all our children the happy, healthy futures they so richly deserve." 

"All of these mayors, the National League of Cities, business partners, and community leaders are with us today because they know building healthy communities is the right thing to do.  And it's also the smart thing to do," said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

"I am proud to announce that NLC will be enhancing our work in assisting local elected officials in getting their residents moving and creating healthier lifestyles," said Mayor Ellis.  

Local elected officials can sign up and learn more at www.healthycommunitieshealthyfuture.org

LMCTC calls upon local elected officials to adopt long-term, sustainable, and holistic approaches that promote improved nutrition and increased physical activity in their communities.  With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NLC's Institute for Youth, Education, and Families will provide local elected officials with tools and technical assistance as they seek to improve health outcomes for children and youth. 

NLC is leading this initiative in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and nonprofit organizations and in coordination with the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Association of Counties to assist local elected officials in implementing policy and environmental changes to prevent childhood obesity.  

Five LMCTC Goals

Local elected officials who sign up their communities to participate in LMCTC commit to achieving five goals that align with the pillars of Let's Move! to improve the health of local residents.

  • Goal 1: Start Early, Start Smart
    To provide children with a healthier start, local elected officials commit to helping early care and education providers incorporate best practices for nutrition, physical activity and screen time into their programs.
  • Goal 2: MyPlate, Your Place
    To empower parents and caregivers, local elected officials commit to prominently displaying MyPlate in all municipal or county venues where food is offered or sold.
  • Goal 3: Smart Servings for Students
    To provide healthy food in schools, local elected officials commit to increasing participation in school breakfast and lunch programs.
  • Goal 4: Model Food Service
    To improve access to healthy, affordable foods, local elected officials commit to implementing healthy and sustainable food service guidelines that are aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans at municipal or county venues that serve food.
  • Goal 5: Active Kids at Play
    To increase physical activity, local elected officials commit to mapping local playspaces, completing a needs assessment, developing an action plan, and implementing a minimum of three proven policies, programs or initiatives aimed at increasing access to play.

To accomplish these goals, participating LMCTC sites are encouraged to form a childhood obesity task force or work through an existing task force that engages a range of local agencies, partners, and residents. 

How to Sign Up, Take Action and Request Assistance

Local elected officials can sign up by visiting www.healthycommunitieshealthyfuture.org, where they can commit to the five LMCTC goals and complete a brief survey.  

Once local elected officials or their designated staff sign up, their community will be part of a national initiative that provides opportunities to showcase local accomplishments and learn from peers and colleagues in cities, towns, and counties across the country.  Local elected officials and staff from participating communities will be encouraged to use the website to share their progress over time and to learn about the accomplishments of other cities, towns, and counties.

To help local elected officials achieve the LMCTC goals, NLC will manage requests for technical assistance from participating communities and provide coordinated access to subject matter experts, peer learning communities, webinars and conference calls, and site visits as appropriate.  LMCTC sites will be recognized on www.healthycommunitieshealthyfuture.org when they achieve gold, silver, and bronze-level benchmarks for each of the five goals.  

Building Healthy Communities for a Healthy Future

Obesity is the most significant public health challenge facing our nation's cities.  During the past four decades, childhood obesity rates in America have quadrupled, and today, more than 23.5 million children and youth in America-nearly one in three-are overweight or obese. Overweight and obese children are at higher risk than their healthy-weight peers for a host of serious and costly illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, asthma and certain types of cancer.  In addition, an estimated one-third of all boys and two out of every five girls born in 2000 or later will suffer from type 2 diabetes at some point in their lives.  If local officials and other leaders do not reverse the obesity epidemic, our children are in danger of becoming the first generation of Americans who live sicker and die younger than their parents' generation.

In addition to its serious health consequences, obesity has real economic costs that affect local governments, businesses and families and threaten to undermine the economic vitality of communities across the nation.  Some researchers estimate that annual health care costs of obesity-related illness are a staggering $190.2 billion, or nearly 21 percent of annual medical spending in the U.S.  

Local elected officials can play a crucial role in helping reverse the childhood obesity epidemic by creating healthy environments that encourage children to be active and expanding access to nutritious, affordable foods.  Through its support for the LMCTC initiative, NLC will provide local leaders with practical tools and guidance to help them build healthier communities.

"I have seen the benefits in my own community, with real cost savings in the form of lower health care premiums," said Mayor Ellis.  "This is a tangible financial benefit.  The real benefits come, not from the dollars saved, but in the additional years lived."

Details:  To learn more about NLC's efforts to help local elected officials reduce childhood obesity and support Let's Move! Cities, Towns and Counties, please visit www.healthycommunitieshealthyfuture.org or contact Tracy Wiedt at (202) 626-3002 or wiedt@nlc.org

Related:
August 15 Webinar: Healthy Communities for a Healthy Future: Supporting Let’s Move! Cities, Towns, and Counties