Let's Move! is a campaign to end childhood obesity in the United States. The campaign was started by First Lady Michelle Obama. The initiative has the initially stated goal of "solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight."
The campaign was announced on February 9, 2010 by the First Lady. She indicated the campaign would encourage healthier food in schools, better food labeling and more physical activity for children. On the same date, President Barack Obama signed a presidential memorandum creating the Task Force on Childhood Obesity to review current programs and develop a national action plan.
Let's Move! seeks to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity and encourage a healthy lifestyle through "a comprehensive, collaborative, and community-oriented initiative that addresses all of the various factors that lead to childhood obesity [. . .] 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."
A song, "Move Your Body", was released to promote the campaign called Let's Move! Flash Workout. The song was by Beyoncé Knowles and Swizz Beatz, and the video was shot in a school cafeteria where Beyoncé was dancing with children.
Body mass index (or BMI) is a measurement of weight in relation to height that can help to determine weight status. In children, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (or CDC) determine that a child is overweight if he/she is above the 85th percentile and lower than the 95th percentile and obese if at or above the 95th percentile.
The CDC indicates that there are several factors that can contribute to childhood obesity: genetic factors; behavioral factors including energy intake, physical activity and sedentary behavior; and environmental factors. Overweight and obesity pose many potential risks and consequences: psychological; cardiovascular disease; among additional risks including asthma, hepatic steatosis, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes. Today nearly one in five children in the U.S. between ages 6–19 are obese, and one in three are overweight. The childhood obesity rate tripled from 1980-1999 creating an epidemic and a generation where children may have shorter life spans than their parents.
The Let's Move! initiative focuses on the reform of behavioral factors and environmental factors by focusing on active lifestyles and healthy eating through community involvement, including but not limited to schools, parents, and healthcare providers.
To promote healthy eating, the Let's Move! initiative focuses on nutrition information, the next generation food pyramid, empowering consumers and having pediatricians as partners. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has put dietary guidelines together to form a food pyramid that can be personalized, which can be located at mypyramid.org. This website has made a page just for children so they can become more interested in healthy eating. Let's Move! also wants to give more power to consumers through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (or FDA)'s "New Front-of-Package Labeling Initiative" and "New Menu and Vending Machines Labeling Requirements".
Let's Move! advocates healthy eating habits to be promoted by families, schools, and communities. Let's Move! urges mothers to eat more healthily when pregnant and offers links to a special "MyPyramid Plan for Moms" so they can create a personalized and healthy diet. The initiative also provides guidelines for parents to set up and promote healthy eating habits for their entire family and children. In order for healthier eating to be promoted at schools, Let's Move! promotes the USDA's HealthierUS School Challenge.
- "The HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) is a voluntary initiative established in 2004 to recognize those schools participating in the National School Lunch Program that have created healthier school environments through promotion of nutrition and physical activity.
- In February 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama introduced Let's Move!, incorporating the HealthierUS School Challenge into her campaign to raise a healthier generation of kids. At the time, monetary incentive awards became available for each HUSSC award level: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Gold Award of Distinction."
Random House publishers has said Michelle Obama will be writing a book on her White House garden, and her family's favorite healthy cooking ideas.
Chefs Move to Schools
Chefs Move to Schools was founded in May 2010 as part of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign. The Chefs Move to Schools program is a nationwide effort to teach culinary skills to school children and to get them to try new, healthful food options. Professional chefs volunteer a specified amount of their time to cook with students and/or to help train school workers in how to prepare and provide food in a healthier manner. As of February 2, 2012 about 3,500 schools were partnered with professional chefs in an effort to educate students about a healthier diet in an entertaining and appealing way.
The program is also figure headed by Chef Sam Kass, an assistant chef at the White House and the Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives. Food Network star Rachael Ray also publicly supports the program and has encouraged children to be involved in the kitchen on episodes of her show Rachael Ray. Other partners of the program include the School Nutrition Association, the American Culinary Federation, Cooking Matters, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Culinary Trust, the Partnership for a Healthier America, Cornell University, Philip Lempert the Supermarket Guru, the Harvard School of Public Health, the International Corporate Chefs Association, and the Food Service Management Institute.
Chefs can sign up to participate in the program on the website on the official Chefs Move to Schools website to be matched with a school in their area. They can select any or all of what they are interested in: helping to plant a school garden, teaching children about healthier living in the classroom, helping officials to develop school lunch menu items, and training students about culinary skills in the kitchen. On the application, chefs are also asked to provide information about their qualifications and training. Chefs are asked to specify how many hours they can devote to the program and which days of the week they can volunteer. These profiles are matched with other profiles that are created by schools to become an official partnership. Once the partnership is created, Chefs Move to Schools provides schools and chefs with resources to help them get started and to help guide both parties through a successful process.
The CDC recommends that children engage in one hour or more of physical activity every day. It states that children should do three different types of activity: aerobic activity, muscle strengthening, and bone strengthening.
Let's Move! looks to promote physical activity through the support and cooperation of families, schools, and communities. On children, the initiative states, "Those who feel supported by friends and families or are surrounded by others interested in physical activity, are more likely to participate." Let's Move! also provides several guidelines for schools to promote physical activity, including strong physical education programs, and indicates the subsidizing of such guidelines with several government programs. Guidelines by which physical activity can be promoted in communities are also outlined on the Let's Move! website.
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According to the White House Office of the Press Secretary, nearly 2,000 chefs have volunteered to help schools in their community become healthier through the Chefs Move to Schools program. However, the impact of said volunteerism remains unknown. Since the inception of the program, results have been mixed for the 12-19 age group.
- American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America
- Songs for a Healthier America (2013)
- White House Kitchen Garden
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