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Acid Reflux causes and Treatment

The First Lady Takes On Childhood Obesity

The First Lady Takes On Childhood Obesity


Neil Nicoll:
Good afternoon and welcome. I’m Neil Nicoll, President and
Chief Executive Officer of the YMCA of the USA, the National
Resource office for our 2,600 YMCAs across the country. And welcome to our esteemed
guests, Mrs. Obama, Dr. Benjamin, Secretary
Sebelius, Dr. Palfrey. We’re glad you’re here. Welcome to our YMCA. I’d also like to thank the staff here at the Alexandria YMCA, especially the branch
Executive Director Bob Hammond. And the leaders of the YMCA
of Metropolitan Washington, Angie-Reece Hawkins, who is the
President and Chief Executive Officer. Stan Law, who is the Executive
Vice President of Organizational Advancement. Pam Curran, the Chief
Operations Officer. And Janice Williams, Senior
Vice President for Program Development. The YMCA is so very honored to
be a partner in this important effort and proud to
be the host today. YMCAs provide safe, affordable
spaces and programs to help both kids and adults learn,
grow, and thrive. In fact, for nearly 160 years YMCAs have offered programs to strengthen the physical,
emotional and spiritual health of millions of individuals from
all backgrounds and all types of communities. Over the past several years, we’ve increased our efforts to help stem the tide of rising obesity and chronic disease rates. There’s an excellent example of
this right here in our YMCA of Metropolitan Washington. Just five years ago the
Metropolitan YMCA launched the PHD program. Now, PHD stands for physical,
healthy and driven and is designed for children
ages 5 to 14. This nationally-recognized youth
wellness program uses a unique combination of assessment
tools, fun games, exercises, nutrition education and family
involvement to help get children active and be well. There’s no better way to
get children moving than by literally parking a playground
right in their front yard. The PHD On-The-Move van,
the region’s first traveling playground, allows the YMCA to
bring opportunities for healthy play, healthy eating,
wellness, education, right to the doorsteps
of local children. The interactive zone next door,
which a couple of us had a chance to play with
before we all got here, is our latest tool to combat
childhood obesity through fun and exciting activities
this time using technology. To date, 24,600 children have
taken part in the PHD as part of after school, summer day
camp, in-school programs, specialized wellness events and
mobile health and well-being programs operated by the YMCA
of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Nationally our YMCAs serve over 9 million kids each year through programs like child care, after school, camps, youth and government, youth sports, aquatics, and much, much more. And we are very serious about
our responsibility to help each and every one of these children
and youth develop healthy behaviors, get a good education
and develop important values and life skills that’ll
carry them into adulthood. We believe that our
responsibility to support individuals of all ages in
adopting and maintaining healthy lifestyles reaches
beyond the walls of the YMCA. It extends to the
entire community. That’s why we are also committed
to working with community leaders to influence
policy and systems changes, to increase physical activity
and improve access to healthy foods. Our healthier communities
initiatives supported by Dr. Friedman and The Centers for
Disease Control as well as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,
focus on a collaborative engagement with
community leaders. How environments influence
health and well-being and the role public policy plays
in sustaining change. The nearly 140 communities
now participating in these initiatives have had success in
improving community walkability and pedestrian safety by
changing zoning laws that ensure the inclusion of sidewalks
in new developments. Increasing access to fresh
fruits and vegetables by bringing farmers markets to
communities where healthy foods were not available. And influencing policy to
institute physical education requirements back into our
schools and our after school programs. We’ve added new communities for
each of the last six years and will continue to expand these
initiatives to bring this work to as many communities as
possible across the country. We need to make the healthy
choice the easy choice by ensuring that our communities
have adequate opportunities for children, families and adults to
engage in healthy behaviors in all of the places where they
live, work, learn and play. To each of you, we look forward
to addressing this issue of childhood obesity. And please know that you can
count on the YMCA to be part of the solution. Now I’d like to introduce
our nation’s Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin. Dr. Benjamin has been on the
job for almost three months now. (laughter) We have high expectations. We seem to have high
expectations in this country for everybody who’s only been
on the job a little while. (laughter) As America’s doctors — (applause) As America’s doctor, she provides the public with the best scientific information available on how to improve their health in the
education of our children. Dr. Benjamin, I’d
just like to say — and to the rest of our
guests — you are, of course, welcome to visit any of our YMCAs any time and I can assure you if you do that you will probably have a world class collection of T-shirts
and sweatshirts. (laughter) Dr. Benjamin. (applause) Surgeon General Benjamin:
Thank you, Neil. Especially for your 40 years
of leadership and service. And the YMCA for
all that you do. It’s certainly played a major role in my little community in Alabama. It’s an honor to
be with you and — as well as all of the
people here on the — it’s not a podium, but
on the floor, with you. Dr. Palfrey from the
Academy of Pediatrics. Secretary Sebelius. And our First Lady,
Michelle Obama. Also, we have Virginia’s
First Lady, Maureen McDonnell. And Congressman Moran
and Mayor Euille. Thank you all for your support
of this very important public health issue and for being here
today for the release of my Surgeon General’s Vision for
a Healthy and Fit Nation. In 2001, former Surgeon General
David Satcher in his call to action to prevent and decrease
overweight and obesity warned us about the negative effects
that weight and weight gain and unhealthy life styles were
having on Americans’ health and well-being. To reverse these trends, he
outlined a national public health response and now we’re
following up with the Surgeon General’s Vision for a
Healthy and Fit Nation. This paper lays out our ways
to concretely respond to the public’s health issues that
were raised nine years ago. Although we’ve made
some strides since 2001, the number of Americans like me
who are struggling with their weight and health conditions
related to their weight remain much too high. Among adults, obesity rates
doubled between 1980 and 2004. Most of you know the often
repeated statistic in America today that more than two thirds
of adults and one-in-three children are
overweight or obese. We see the sobering impact of
these numbers in the high rates of chronic diseases
such as diabetes, heart disease and other chronic
illnesses that are starting to affect our children
more and more. For years we’ve encouraged
Americans to eat more, eat more nutritiously, exercise
regularly and maintain healthy lifestyles. But for these things to happen,
Americans need to live and to work in environments that
support their efforts. There’s a growing consensus
that we as a nation need to create communities and
environments where, as you heard, the healthy
choices are the easy choices. My vision for a healthy and fit
nation is an attempt to change the national conversation from
a negative one about obesity and illness to a positive
conversation about being healthy and being fit. We need to stop bombarding
Americans with what they can’t have, what they can’t
eat, what’s — terrible thing’s going to happen to them if they don’t get on some dreaded exercise equipment. (laughter) We need to start talking about
what they can do to become healthy and fit. To go dancing
because you enjoy it. To choose a healthier meal because you’ve demanded that the food companies make the healthy meal the best tasting meal. We need to make
exercise activities fun. Something people will enjoy. Something they want to be doing. Such as playing sports,
swimming or just taking a walk. To do this, we need to reach out
to parents and to teachers as well as mobilize action and
assistance across all of federal government in partnership
with governors and mayors, medical community,
leading foundations, and to sports and
business communities; we need their help to support common sense innovative tools and solutions. For example, healthy foods
should be affordable and accessible to all Americans
in our diverse communities. Children should spend less
time in front of the TV. Children should also be
having fun and playing in safe neighborhoods that provide parks, recreational facilities, community centers, and
walking and bike paths. Schools need to serve healthy
food and set higher nutrition standards. Schools should also require
daily physical education classes and recess periods. Hospitals, work sites, in all
communities should make it easier for mothers to initiate
and sustain breast feeding. Employers should implement
wellness programs that promote healthy eating in cafeterias,
encourage physical activity through group classes, and create incentives for employers — employees to participate. I hope the communities across
the nation will use this vision for a healthy and fit nation as
a blueprint for action to work more effectively,
to share resources, to develop partnerships, and to
use innovative solutions for change. As Surgeon General, I want
Americans to live long and healthy lives. To become a healthy and fit
nation we must remember that Americans are more likely to
change their behavior if they have a meaningful reward. Something more than just
reaching a certain weight or certain dress size. The real reward has to be
something that people can feel, that people can enjoy,
that they can celebrate. The reward is invigorating,
energizing, joyous health. This health is at a level of
health that allows people to embrace each day and live their
lives to the fullest without disease, disability, or
loss of productivity. Finally, I want to say that
today we stand at a crossroads. The old normal was to stress
the importance of attaining a recommended number
for weight and BMI. And although these numbers
are very important measures of disease and disability,
the total picture is much, much bigger. It involves a creation of a
new normal with an emphasis on achieving an optimal level
of health and well-being. People want to live
long and to live well. And they are making their
voices heard across this nation. Today’s obesity epidemics
calls for committed, compassionate citizens to
mobilize and demand the health and well-being they
so richly deserve. I have heard their call. We all here have
heard their call. And I am honored to do
everything in my power to help Americans live long, to
live well, to be healthy, and to be a fit nation. Thank you. (applause) Dr. Judith Palfrey:
Thank you, Dr. Benjamin, for those wonderful words and encouragement toward health. I’m Dr. Judith Palfry, I’m
the President of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The Surgeon General’s report
challenges us as a nation to turn the tide on obesity. As a practicing pediatrician
for over 30 years I can tell you first hand that we have
experienced an alarming increase in the number of children and
adolescents who are overweight and obese. Today most physicians are
dealing with overweight and obesity in 20 to 30%
of the children we see. Now, contrary to the vision
that Dr. Benjamin just said, our obese children do not
have a healthy childhood. Overweight toddlers
have trouble toddling. They do not have the strength
and coordination to carry out that extra weight. Overweight and obese children
have higher rates of asthma. When we take x-rays of their
chests their families are astounded to see that little
tiny ribcage surrounded by layers of fat. Their chest can be two to three
times normal just carrying that weight. No wonder they struggle to run
and jump and they succumb easily to asthma and other
respiratory diseases. School age youngsters who are
overweight and obese have a very high risk of bone
and joint problems. The most serious of which can
be a major medical emergency. Obese teenagers come in with
problems ranging from diabetes, to hypertension, to sleep apnea. And for all of these children,
social and emotional concerns are very common. In fact, many children and
adolescents who are overweight or obese actually suffer
from clinical depression. Now, it does not
have to be this way! We have proven early
interventions that can keep children healthy in the vision
that Dr. Benjamin has just shown us. And the two keys to that are
healthy nutrition and regular physical activity. Good nutrition in childhood sets
the stage for lifelong healthy eating and celebrating eating. It’s not bad to eat. You just got to eat healthy. (laughter) Pediatricians encourage
mothers to breast feed. We encourage child care
providers in schools to serve healthy foods. And families to have colorful,
well-balanced meals — together. In addition to counseling
families every day, pediatricians are now involved
in a wide range of programs, partnering programs, to
promote healthy eating. We’re developing guides
with nutritionists, we’re creating cookbooks to hand
out to parents and grandparents. Now, along with nutrition,
physical activity is fundamental to good health. Play, after all, is
the work of children. It not only helps them grow
and build strong bodies, but for our educators
and everyone else, it actually improves their
concentration and their ability to learn. Working with schools wise like
this one, boys and girls clubs, the American Academy of
Pediatricians urges that every child has the opportunity to be
active at least 60 minutes every day. Let me say that again. Active at least 60
minutes every day. Our young pediatricians in
training at the University of Mexico have developed a mom and me exercise group with their families and they literally
get down on the floor and jump around like croaking
frogs with the kids. (laughter) Did I mention that
prevention can be fun? Finally, there’s a strong
relationship between screen time — that’s television,
computers and video — and the development of
overweight and obesity. Limiting that screen time to
two hours a day can help our children get moving. We’re working hard to prevent
obesity before it ever starts. We need to meet
people where they are, be sensitive to the different
needs of various populations. No single solution’s
going to work for everyone. As the Surgeon General
has said it’s a challenge. But we know we can
surmount it together. Our nation must commit itself
to a long-term campaign to transform our children’s health. The American Academy
of Pediatrics is proud, proud to stand today with the
Administration in working to ensure a healthy future for
all our nation’s children. Now it’s my distinct pleasure
to introduce our next speaker, Secretary of the United States
Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius. Secretary Sebelius has been
a leader on health care. She has helped with families
and children for over 20 years. As Governor of Kansas she was
recognized for her work to improve access to health care. And since taking
office in April 2009, she’s been a leader in some
of the top issues for children including the reform of our nation’s health and response to H1N1. Dr. — we are very, very
proud to be working with you. Please join me in welcoming
Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius. (applause) Secretary Sebelius:
Well, good afternoon, everyone. And thank you, Dr. Palfrey, for
not only that nice introduction, but thanks for being here. And thanks for the work of the
Academy of Pediatrics on a host of issues affecting
our nation’s children. And we have an illustrious
group here on the floor. And certainly are pleased to
be joined by our partners. Congressman Moran has a long
history on wellness and obesity issues that he’s worked on in
Congress and we look forward to working with you as this
effort moves forward. Mayor Yewell, it’s nice
to be back in your city. We’ve done a lot of innovative
clinics and other activities and I can’t imagine any child not
wanting to go into the room next door and hang out. I mean, it’s fabulous. So, to the Y here and to
national Ys, congratulations. It’s — I want to go hang out. (laughter) And we’re thrilled to have the
First Lady of Virginia here. I have to tell you,
Mrs. McDonnell, that my husband still regets us
moving out of assisted living. And, you know, we had the
opportunity to live in a governor’s residence
for seven years. And he was happy to have me take
this job but he didn’t know why he couldn’t stay where he was. So we’re still trying to
sort that out a little bit. (laughter) And I’m very pleased to be
joining in this effort with my friend and our wonderful
First Lady, Michelle Obama. You know, we got some pretty
good exercise last night, all that standing
up and clapping, sitting down and standing up. But it’s thrilling to have her
take on the role as the leading advocate in this country
for healthy living. Dr. Benjamin cares a lot
about the lives and health of Americans. She used to focus that attention
in her clinic in Alabama. And now we have the great
opportunity to have her become America’s doctor and focus that
attention around the country. And, you know, as she said,
we used to have a whole set of rules which were just
given out to people, eat five fruits and
vegetables a day, get your kids out from behind
the computer, go to the gym. But often that
fell on deaf ears. And while those are very
important things to do, if we’re really serious about
turning the corner on this issue, we need everyone
to be involved. We need to make this a national
crisis and a national issue, because it has a
huge national impact. The President last night pointed
out so eloquently that the health care costs for average
families are continuing to skyrocket making it very hard
for families to pay their bills. And the ability of small
businesses to keep affordable health care is getting more and
more difficult and that often impacts their ability to keep
good employees and expand their businesses. The unhealthier we are as a
nation the more our health care costs will continue to rise and
the less competitive we will be globally in the world. So we have a not only moral
obligation but I would say an economic imperative to
begin to make a change. And let me just give you a
couple of pretty alarming statistics. According to the Centers For
Disease Control and Prevention, we already spend one out of
every ten health care dollars on obesity and its complications. Overall we spend almost twice
the amount today that we spent on obesity in 1998, that’s how
bad these trends have gotten, nearly $150 billion a year. And to put that in perspective,
that’s more than is spent on treating all the cancers in
America year in and year out. Almost half again as much. A lot of the money that we’re
talking about goes to treating the chronic diseases which have
obesity as an underlying cause. And we know those include heart
disease and stroke and type II diabetes and certain kinds
of cancers which are directly related to obesity. Medical care for diabetes and
its complications alone cost more than $116 billion a year. Health care costs related to
heart disease cost the country almost $93 billion a year. And stroke, another 48 billion,
all of which are directly tied to obesity. And that’s just what
we’re spending today. Right now we have more children
who are overweight and obese than we’ve ever had
before in this nation. Four times higher than
it was 40 years ago. So many children now have type
II diabetes that we no longer refer to it as adult
onset diabetes. It’s just referred
to as type II, which is a relatively
recent and alarming change. In fact, we have the first
generation of American children where if we don’t
change the trajectory, they will have a shorter
lifespan than their parents here in the United
States of America. The fact that some of these
consequences don’t show up for 10 or 15 or 20 years should not
make this any less of a crisis. Although Dr. Palfrey just did a
great job outlining what really happens in the unseen
impacts of childhood obesity, the administration has already
supported some major changes in policy to help reverse the
growing trends of obesity. One of the most historic steps
is the Recovery Act that the President signed almost a year
ago which is going to have a first time ever $650 million investment in prevention and wellness aimed at obesity
and smoking cessation. Community projects across this
country will be experimenting with what really it takes
to make some changes. And the Surgeon General has
already recognized that there are a range of factors
influencing obesity. What we’ve already done
with those grants is begin to allocate them to states, but
also to ask communities to come up with creative strategies and
some of the ideas are really encouraging. In fact, we’re way
oversubscribed but we’ll have 30 of the best projects
underway later this spring. We’re also fighting another
factor, which is advertising. One of the reasons that it’s
good for your child to move away from the television is not just
that it gets him or her up and around, it’s that they stop
being bombarded with the ads that are particularly aimed
at children on kids’ TV. We know that a recent study
indicated that if you’re watching a child’s
program on TV, every eight minutes you
will have a junk food ad. It’s not surprising that
children can identify most of the brands of the unhealthy
foods because companies are spending a billion and a half
dollars a year marketing those products to our children. And now those ads have spread
to video games and websites. So not only on television, but
they’re coming through in a variety of medium and that’s
another initiative that we’ve got to take very seriously. So if a child gets diabetes
because he turns 18 partly because when he was younger he
only ate foods he saw every day on TV and the Internet,
it’s not just his fault. It’s our fault. We have to change that dynamic. So if we can change the way our
children eat and help them be healthier, we also bring
down health care costs. Last night in his State
of the Union Address, President Obama recognized
the urgency of this issue and nominated our next speaker to lead a national movement to address it. Now, the First Lady has not only
been on the national stage a relatively short period of time,
but she’s instantly become the most visible and respected
advocate for healthier lifestyles in America. She’s everyone’s favorite
vegetable gardener. (laughter) She had a Healthy Kids Fair last
summer on the White House lawn. She has been talking to America
about choices they can make. She is launching a national
campaign to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity and we look
forward to being a good partner in that effort. So it’s my great pleasure to ask
you to give a great warm welcome to our First Lady,
Michelle Obama. (applause) Mrs. Obama:
Thank you, everybody. (applause) Thank you. (applause) Thank you. (applause) As you know, from last night,
I get embarrassed when people stand up and clap for me. (laughter) I don’t really know what to do. (laughter) Do I wave, do I — it’s like, please, just sit down, everyone. (laughter) Good afternoon. I’m thrilled to be
here on the floor. (laughter) It’s a great floor. It’s kind of a warm floor,
but it’s a good floor. Let me begin by thanking the
new First Lady in the room, Maureen McDonnell. We are going to have a
great time working together. She is already very engaged and
supportive of these initiatives. And since she’s so close I
am counting on her to work alongside on some
of these issues. We’re going to see you in a
month at the governors gala, whatever they call it,
so be ready to dance. (laughter) And welcome aboard. Mrs. McDonnell:
(inaudible) — practice. Mrs. Obama:
A little practice, absolutely. Congressman Moran, again I want
to thank you for all your work in this area. I look forward to
working with you. Our staffs are already talking
about some things that you’ve been working on for
a very long time, so we’re grateful for your
leadership and concern and focus. Mayor Euille, again you have
been a host to me in your great city, and you’ve done
wonderful work in this area. I had a terrific time addressing
the National Conference of Mayors, and I got a very good
response from your colleagues. I know that the mayors in this
country stand ready to work on this issue. They are seeing the effects of
what everyone on this floor has talked about, in terms
of childhood obesity, and they’re ready to
make some changes. Also, Dr. Palfrey, it is an
honor for us to have you with us. As I’ve shared before, it was
through our relationship with our pediatrician that we even
began as a family to start thinking about these issues. And it’s our pediatricians and
our medical community that are going to work side by side with
families throughout the country. So we’re grateful
for your support. I know that this is not
a new issue for you, and I hope that our attention to
it makes your job a little bit easier. I also want to thank all the
folks at the Y for all you’re doing — Neil Nicoll, for your work as the national leader. But I know you know as a
national leader the real work happens on the ground at these
fine facilities all throughout the country. The Y has been a leader in
ensuring that families and communities all over this
country have access to places to play. Your mobile physical
unit, your PhD unit, that came to the South Lawn
helped me debut my hula-hooping skills. (laughter) But I think the Ys are showing
that they are thinking towards the next stage, you know. The room that we were in is the
next generation of what Ys can be. The mobile unit is something
that I didn’t grow up with, but you’re keeping up with
the changes in cultures and communities in a way that is
going to make a huge impact to the work that we have
to do in our nation. And finally I want to
thank my buddy in crime, Secretary Sebelius, for her
tremendous leadership and her tremendous friendship. We’re glad that you moved
out of assisted living. (laughter) I know it’s hard — I know,
I know, I’ll work on him. (laughter) But you can come over
for dinner or something. (laughter) From your work with
the CDC to the FDA, the Department of Health and
Human Services is clearly at the forefront of addressing some
of our greatest health issues, and it’s going to take
their continued commitment. These grants that
are coming out, we’ve been working with your
department in getting them done. Your staff has been tremendous
in moving very quickly on getting that money out, and I’m
anxious to see what all that hard work leads to. So we are grateful not just to
you but all of the thousands of people in your agency who
make us all look very good. And finally I want to commend
our new Surgeon General, Dr. Benjamin, who I
finally got to meet. (laughter) Three months on the job and
we’re already making you crazy, right? (laughter) But you’re doing a terrific
job just jumping right in. The report is not only timely
but it’s right on point. And your perspective, your new
way of looking at this issue, is refreshing, and again
it’s right on point. It’s presenting both
the dangers of inaction, and a vision for health
for this country. It’s an incredible step in a
long journey that we’ll have to take. So we want to thank you
for your important work. So as we’ve seen, the surge
in obesity in this country is nothing short of a
public health crisis, and it’s threatening
our children, it’s threatening our families,
and more importantly it’s threatening the
future of this nation. Higher rates of obesity
are directly linked, as you’ve heard, to higher rates
of chronic illnesses like heart disease and cancer and diabetes. Even though type II diabetes
is rare among young people, more than three quarters of
those who have it are obese. In fact, the health consequences
are so severe that as the Secretary said, medical experts
have warned that our children are on track to be less
healthy than we are. And there’s never been a
generation of young people who are on track to be healthier
than their parents — or less healthy
than their parents. And truly, if we’re really
honest with ourselves, it’s not hard to understand
how this happens. I’ve tried to track this
through my own life. In some cases, it’s access. Parents have told me —
I’ve seen it myself — that they would love nothing
more than to feed their kids more healthy foods, but if you
don’t live anywhere near a place that sells fresh produce, it’s
very hard to accomplish that goal. In other cases, the issue
is just convenience. At the end of a long day —
and more and more families are experiencing these long days with two parents working and busy schedules — you just get home and you’re tired and you pick up the phone and
you order a pizza, or you go to that drive-thru. It’s just easier. Our modern-day life makes it
very difficult for us to sit down and prepare that meal. And a lot of times
it’s affordability. In these tough economic
times, buying healthy foods unfortunately feels like a
luxury for too many families. They just can’t afford it. We’ve seen stories,
we’ve heard stories, of people who know that buying
that large gallon of juice is cheaper than buying
a gallon of milk. They can’t afford to
make different choices. And then at schools
and in our communities, oftentimes it’s budget cuts
that make it more difficult. Recess and PE are gone for many
kids in communities all across this country. Parks and playgrounds and
after-school sports are few and far between in too
many neighborhoods. And for most people, the cause
is really a combination of all of these things. It’s no one particular thing. It’s everything
cobbled together. And let’s face it: There are
really just too many pressures on parents today. And I understand
those pressures. I talk about this all the time. It’s easy to live healthy when
you live in the White House and you have staff and people who
are cooking for you and making sure that it’s
balanced and colorful, because I had a hard time doing
it before I lived in the White House, and that
wasn’t so long ago. Barack and I were like
any working couple. I was a working mom with
a husband that was busy, so many times I was the
one balancing that load and wrestling with many
of those challenges. And there were plenty
of times, I tell you, that you’d come home tired,
you don’t want to hear the kids fuss, and popping something in
the microwave or picking up a burger was just heaven. It was a Godsend. But we were fortunate enough
to have a pediatrician, as I’ve mentioned, that kind
of waved the red flag for me, as a mother, and basically
cautioned me that I had to take a look at my own children’s BMI. Now, we went to our
pediatrician all the time. I thought my kids
were perfect — they are and always will be — (laughter) — but he warned that he was concerned that something was getting off balance,
because fortunately he was a pediatrician that worked
predominantly in an African American urban community, and
he knew these trends existed, and he was watching very closely
in his client population, his patient population. So again, in my eyes, my
children were perfect. I didn’t see the changes. And that’s also
part of the problem, or part of the challenge. It’s often hard to see changes
in your own kids when you’re living with them
day in and day out. As parents, we all know and will
readily acknowledge broadly that kids in general — we will say we know they don’t eat right — right? And we know they don’t get as
much exercise as they should, generally. But we often simply don’t
realize that those kids are our kids, and our kids could be
in danger of becoming obese. We always think that only
happens to someone else’s kid — and I was in that position. We all want desperately to make
the best choices for our kids, but in this climate it’s hard to
know what’s the right thing to do anymore. So even though I wasn’t exactly
sure at that time what I was supposed to do with this
information about my children’s BMI, I knew that I
had to do something; that I had to lead our
family to a different way. But the beauty was that for me
over the course of a few months we started making
really minor changes. And I share this story because
the changes were so minor. We did things like, you
know, limit TV time. My kids were already fairly
active, but, you know, we cut TV time out
during the week, and that helped
increase activity, because they were just running
up and down the stairs annoying me more. (laughter) We paid more attention
to portion size. Didn’t make a big deal out
of it, but just sort of said, listen to when you’re hungry,
and when you’re full, stop. We reduced our intake of sugary
drinks and instead encouraged our kids to drink more water. I just put water bottles in
the lunch during the week, or we had low-fat milk. Again, didn’t make a
big deal out of it — just made the change. We put more fruits and
vegetables in our diets, again, trying to make for
a colorful palate, but you’d slip some grapes
in at breakfast time, and throw in an apple at lunch,
and pester them about whether they actually ate the apple. (laughter) And then you try to balance it
out with something at dinner time. I mean, it was really
very minor stuff. But these small changes resulted
in some really significant improvements. And I didn’t know it would. It was so significant that
the next time we visited our pediatrician, he was amazed. He looked over the girls’
charts and he said, “What on Earth are you doing?” And I said, “Really,
not much, not much.” And that’s the good news that
we want to share with families, particularly for kids: Small
changes can lead to big results. They’re not destined
to this fate, and they’re not really in
control what goes into their mouths, usually. So we know what has led to the
obesity epidemic, you know. We know inside — I mean,
we’re still learning — but we kind of know. And we know what we
need to do to solve it. We just have to make
the commitment to do it. We really — each and every
one of us needs to make that commitment. We need to provide parents with
better nutritional information so that they can
make better choices. We need to give our kids
healthier options at school, where many kids are getting
most of their meals. We need to make sure they’re
spending less time in front of the TV and playing videogames,
and more time exercising and having fun and doing the work
of children, which is play. But we also know that the
solution can’t come from government alone. That’s something that we just
have to remind ourselves. And for many, that’s
a great relief. Everyone has to be willing to
do their part to solve this problem, and everyone has to
work together to turn this pattern around. And that’s exactly what
we hope to do through an administration-wide initiative
on child obesity that I’m going to be launching in the
next couple of weeks, along with a number
of important partners. We’re going to be bringing the
federal government together, those resources in
partnerships with business, non-profit and the
foundation communities, all of whom are thrilled to
be a part of this endeavor. It’s just been refreshing to see
so many people recognizing that this is the time to step
up and make some changes. We’re going to do a
number of things — again, some of
them small things. We want to create what we’re
calling more healthy schools. And these are schools that are
offering more nutritious meal options during the day. They’re providing nutritional
information to children as part of the curriculum, and they’re
ensuring that children are getting the increased exercise
that we know that they need. But we also have to focus
on increasing the amount of exercise outside of
school, and no place — like the Y knows that we
need to make these changes. We need to make healthy food
options more affordable and accessible. And that’s going to be probably
one of the toughest things that we need to do. And we need to do this in all
communities: urban, rural, everywhere. People have to have
the information, they have to have access in
order to make healthy choices. There is nothing more
frustrating that will frustrate a parent more than to say that
you’ve got to buy more fruits and vegetables — but to still see the cost out of kilter and see those goals out of reach. So these are just some of
the things that we hope to do through this initiative. But what we know is that
we have to be ambitious; that the approach
has to be ambitious. It can’t just be lockstep. It’s got to be something
meaningful and powerful. And the other thing
that I will say — and say again and
again and again — this won’t be easy. So let’s begin with that. (laughter) This will not be easy and
it won’t happen overnight. And it won’t happen simply
because the First Lady has made it her priority. That in and of itself is
not going to be enough. It’s going to take all of us. Thank God it’s not going
to be solely up to me. (laughter) But it’s going to
take all of us — parents, schools, communities — working together for a very long time, over a sustained
period of time. Over generations of children
will need to keep doing this. But I have every confidence,
based on the level of energy that I’ve seen, based on the
willingness of people to deal with this issue
across party lines, the willingness of the business
community to be a part of the solution. Every sign that we’ve seen over
the course of moving to this rollout has been
nothing but positive. And of course parents
are ready and willing. We all want to make the best
choices for our children. We just need to know how. And if we continue to do that,
if we work with our physicians, if we work with our
Surgeon General, if we’ve got the government,
the federal government, working together, businesses
ready to make the sacrifices, then we can tackle this problem. And we can do something
really important for our kids. We can hand them the future that
we know they’re going to need to be successful. So I am excited. And I look forward to working
with all of you over the next years to make this not just a
dream but to make this movement a reality. So thank you all for the
work that you’ve done so far. And we have a lot
more work to do. So thank you so much. (applause)

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