Michelle Obama has carved out a tough task – fighting childhood obesity. As a dietitian and exercise physiologist, I’m thrilled to see a first lady focus on a subject near and dear to my heart. When I was a kid I remember just a few chubby children and maybe one obese child per class. Now, however, I’m dismayed to see many overweight and obese children and a staggering amount of kids (regardless of their weight) who don’t have basic physical activity skills down pat. But, Mrs. Obama’s task isn’t so daunting just because of the sheer number of obese children. She must also dance delicately between lobbyists, the Farm Bill (which subsidizes corn and soy), parents watching her every move (will she criticize their choices?) accessibility (or lack thereof in many poor areas in the U.S.) to healthy foods and pleasing the food companies who are working to make school foods more nutritious, less fattening and still tasty at the same time. It’s a delicate balance indeed and I sure hope Mrs. Obama can make a big impact – we certainly need it. For more about the Let’s Move Campaign check out the website.
Balance Food and Physical Activity
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “balance your food intake with physical activity.” Years ago – in the early 1900s for instance, people engaged in more activities of daily living – walking, playing games outside and doing their own manual labor around the house. Now, we have many modern conveniences that enable us to sit more and move less. Therefore, it’s vital to plan for physical activity.
According to the CDC, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week and engage in muscle strengthening exercise at least 2 days per week that works all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, arms). Kids need more – they should be active for 60 minutes every single day! Included in these 60 minutes – kids need to do muscle strengthening at least 3 days per week. Incorporate activities you enjoy and those you can do with your family members. This way you’ll stick with it and get everyone active!