WASHINGTON - Forty local elected officials from across the country joined First Lady Michelle Obama and the National League of Cities (NLC) at the White House today to celebrate the success of Let's Move Cities, Towns and Counties (LMCTC). The elected officials joined the First Lady in marking the program's achievements to date, including engaging 330 cities, towns and counties who have already pledged their commitment to achieving the initiative's five goals, which were unveiled last July. LMCTC calls upon local elected officials to adopt sustainable and holistic strategies that improve access to healthy, affordable food and opportunities for physical activity.
In her remarks the First Lady said, "We're just beginning this journey. And I am confident that if we keep doing what we're doing, we are going to end this epidemic, and we're not only going to make our kids healthier, but, as we see with the data, our communities are going to be stronger. Our costs are going to go down. It's going to make a vast improvement in this country, and hopefully we can be a model for the rest of the world."
The First Lady also encouraged more cities, towns and counties to join LMCTC. "We need you to reach out to leaders in neighboring communities," she said to the local officials in attendance. "Partner with some of your colleagues on new programs whenever it seems like it's going to work. Ask them to join you and become a Let's Move! community."
Joining the First Lady at the event were Sam Kass, Executive Director of Let's Move! and Senior Policy Advisor on Nutrition, Dr. Howard K. Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and David Agnew, White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs.
Following the First Lady's remarks, Agnew moderated a panel discussion featuring four elected officials from across the country who have championed Let's Move! Cities, Towns and Counties in their communities. The panelists discussed their reasons for making health and wellness a priority as local leaders, as well as the strategies they have effectively employed to implement LMCTC.
"We are thrilled to celebrate and support the hard work that leaders of cities and counties are doing all over this country to reduce the childhood obesity epidemic," said Clarence Anthony, Executive Director of the National League of Cities as he introduced the panelists. "Let's Move! Cities, Towns and Counties supports and empowers local elected officials to help be part of the solution. We encourage all cities, towns and counties to participate in this important initiative."
"We have a role as leaders to work with parents and all of our partners to make sure our kids our healthy," said panelist Madeline Rogero, mayor, Knoxville, TN.
"Quality of life is something we talk about a lot in Missoula County, but if we aren't healthy, it's not a good quality of life," added Missoula County, Montana Commissioner Jean Curtiss who also participated in the LMCTC panel.
NLC works in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and with the support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Association of Counties and other nonprofit organizations, to assist local elected officials who join LMCTC as they implement policy and environmental changes to prevent childhood obesity.
Following the panel discussion, Dr. Chris Murray, from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington provided the local officials with a briefing on leading health indicators. Key among the findings of a new report presented today were that dietary risks were the leading cause of disease burden in the U.S. in 2010. Additional findings from the report can be found at: www.ihmeuw.org.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded NLC a grant to provide technical assistance to local elected officials working to create healthier communities and prevent childhood obesity, including sites participating in LMCTC.
For more information about the LMCTC initiative, its five goals, and how local elected officials can sign up, visit: www.HealthyCommunitiesHealthyFuture.org.
The National League of Cities is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.