You can still be fit, even if you love Chicken in a Biscuit crackers as much as I do.
“The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake.” -First Lady Michelle Obama
There has been a significant shift in lifestyle throughout America in the last thirty years. Where once families ate nutritious home cooked meals together there lingers convenience food. Children played outside from dawn ‘til dusk, whereas now they sit in front of video games and computers. The result is a lack of physical fitness and nutrition. It is an epidemic. Our children are the future workforce, representatives, and protectors of Minnesota. We all have a responsibility to remedy the situation.
I can relate with young people today. I was not always in the best physical shape either. Running is hard work and I would often find excuses to avoid it. Plus, I like (love) Chicken in a Biscuit crackers. I could eat them every day, the whole box. This is not a healthy choice and requires many, many miles of running to burn off.
However, I was fortunate to have a healthy parent who discussed these choices with me at an early age. I was offered healthier food choices and plenty of opportunity for exercise.
Many of Minnesota’s children are not so lucky. Childhood obesity is the leading cause of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes in children. The United States spends 147 billion dollars annually fighting these. “In a sample of five to seventeen years olds, almost sixty percent of overweight children had at least one cardiovascular disease risk factor: high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and abnormal glucose tolerance.” (Let’s Move.gov)
Overweight and obese children suffer psychological stress which results in low self-esteem, poor academic performance, and interruption of social skills. These problems are not only affecting children’s everyday health, development, and psychological well-being, but are changing the trajectory of their future.
The solution is easy. Simple inexpensive adjustments to everyday choices are the answer. Let’s Move initiatives five pillars of success are; create a healthy start for children, empower parents and care givers, provide healthy foods in school, improve access to healthy affordable food, and increase physical activity. Physical fitness and a healthy diet have been associated with prevention of chronic diseases, building lean muscle, promoting strong bones, decreasing risk of obesity, higher academic achievement, decreases in anxiety and depression, and building self-esteem. It doesn’t take a triathlon or a lifetime of salad to achieve good results. Easy, simple everyday steps are all that is need, such as: walking your dog, choosing an apple instead of a donut, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or choosing whole grains over starches. You don’t have to sacrifice your favorite indulgence moderation is key. These changes can easily be made at home and in school without sacrificing time or budget.
Let’s Move is not just about eating healthy and working out. It’s a lifestyle. I know my day is better when I go to the gym; I have more energy, I accomplish more with my time, and I feel better. I like being fit and it’s easier when I want that occasional basket of chili cheese fries.
Let’s Move’s goal is to end childhood obesity in one generation; it’s ambitious but attainable if we all work together. I started this work in my community by teaming up with Polk County Public Health, volunteering at the Natural Play Space, participating in 5K run/walks, supporting the Run-Trav-Run Ministry for the Grand Forks Half Marathon, and planned membership on the school Wellness Committee.
My plan is not only to continue this work, but increase it when I take my next step into the world of college. Minnesota’s children are watching us and following our lead…Let’s Move!
Larson is a student writer in Toni Grove’s class at CHS.