Fighting Obesity – Progress!
Posted on Sunday, November 10th, 2013 |
As the nation wages war against obesity, I am happy to report that there are encouraging signs! Research reports that the formerly meteoric rise of obesity is finally leveling off. First Lady Michelle Obama is leading initiatives that are bringing private businesses, celebrities, educators, and consumers together to educate Americans and change behaviors.
One of these is a partnership with Sesame Street. Families and children may soon see Big Bird popping up on displays of broccoli or Ernie next to a basket of apples.
Sesame Street has agreed to waive its license fee, allowing the growers, suppliers and retailers of the Produce Marketing Association to use Bert and Ernie and the rest of the gang to promote healthy produce. A recent study showed that when given a choice between eating an apple and a cookie, kids obviously chose the cookie. But when an Elmo sticker was on the apple, nearly double the number of kids made the healthier choice, according to the Cornell University study. Produce marketers see this deal as closing the gap with the marketing clout of big food companies and the big budgets they use to sell junk food to kids. The program will give the produce industry additional marketing opportunities for their naturally healthful products.
Another positive trend is that sales of bottled water are expected to surpass those of carbonated soft drinks in the near future. Sales have accelerated steadily every quarter since 1993 and now have percentages in the high single digits. A recent study by North Dakota State University used dietary intake data collected by the federal government to draw correlations between decreased consumption of soda from 1999 through 2010 and improvements in the bio-markers that indicated cholesterol and other chronic diseases. The significant shift to bottled water products has posed a tough challenge for the Coca-Cola Company and its rival PepsiCo in recent years.
School lunch programs are beginning to make nutritious school lunches more appealing to students. Woodrow Wilson Elementary school in Salt Lake City is piloting a program with a chef cooking fresh food at a chef’s station. The kids think it is cool and are more interested in broccoli and beef stir fry when it is made fresh by the chef in front of them. Other initiatives by the school include an A to Z salad bar featuring vegetables starting with different letters of the alphabet, and four-course meals that the chef brings to various classrooms to help students learn about new types of food.
These are just a few examples of how creative planning and community effort to combat obesity is paying off. As more adults and kids take up the cause against obesity it is my hope that we will soon see obesity rates dropping. More consumers are now choosing organic foods along with fresh vegetables, lean protein, and fruits as the core of their diets. And, more Americans are becoming physically active.
I encourage you to make your own lifestyle changes, and be involved in your school and community to help fight obesity. Together, we can create a healthier future for all of America!
For the kids,