Let’s Move! Tackling Childhood Obesity With the Great Outdoors

from Wildlife Promise

First Lady Michelle Obama this week released an action plan from her interagency task force called Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation. The new report provides a national road map of solutions to tackle this health issue.

Goal: Kids born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight

The First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign aims to end childhood obesity using a variety of strategies including outdoor recreation and outdoor education. NWF and coalition partners work together tirelessly to provide strategies for simple ways to get kids moving, outdoors. We’re psyched to share some of the task force recommendations to increase physical activity, pulled from the official report.

Outdoor recreation and access to nature play a vital role in the physical, psychological, spiritual well-being, health, and development of people of all ages. The current poor health of many American children today, including increasing levels of obesity-related illnesses, attention deficit-hyperactivity, vitamin D deficiency, and myopia are being attributed, in part, to a generational decline in the level of outdoor recreation in natural environments…Children’s level of physical activity has been shown to increase when they participate in environmental education programs that promote outdoor activity..

Michelle Obama white house

First Lady Childhood Obesity Recommendations

The childhood obesity task force highlights fundamental changes in American lifestyles over the past few decades, including a rise in “screen time”. Kids who watch TV or are glued to computers and gaming systems are likely to be less engaged in both organized sports and informal playing.

A fun event today in the nation’s capital engaged Kimball Elementary students in an afternoon of hiking, gardening and wildlife-related games. Senior officials spent some time with the students at Fort Dupont Park, including Deputy Director of the National Park Service Dan Wenk, Senior Advisor to the Interior Secretary Bob Stanton, and Chief of the U.S. Forest Service Tom Tidwell.

The event highlighted the need to expand opportunities for outdoor recreation and physical activity, and make urban parks and open spaces more accessible to youth and their families. NWF’s local affiliate Earth Conservation Corps (ECC) was a partner for the event. ECC does an incredible job engaging DC-area student volunteers in Anacostia River restoration projects and beyond. Learn more at www.ecc1.org.

Find Nature in your Neighborhood

Supporting outdoor education and recreation on public lands, like Fort Dupont Park, is a hugely important piece of the fight against childhood obesity. While growing up, outside exploration or science-related field trips were my favorite out-of-school classroom activities. My local arboretum was next to Orchard Elementary, and played a large role in my uncomfortably obsessive love of frogs and toads. Looking for an arboretum near you? Nature Find is a comprehensive online resource for families to pop in a zip code and find refuges, forests and parks in your area.

Learn about NWF’s Be Out There campaign at beoutthere.org.

Read the new full report and learn more about First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative at LetsMove.gov.

Photo Credit: The White House Flickr account – Michelle Obama with student in the Red Room on February 9.