Weekly Roundup: Let’s Move! Celebrates Birthday

Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to reverse childhood obesity celebrated its two-year anniversary this week, and the first lady made the rounds to celebrate the campaign’s progress. Obama challenged — and defeated — talk show host Jimmy Fallon in a physical competition held at the White House; she dined at an Olive Garden in Fort Worth, Texas to highlight the chain’s commitment to introducing healthier children’s menus; and held a celebratory event in Des Moines with figure skater Michelle Kwan and gymnast Shawn Johnson.

Administration officials say progress has been made since the campaign launched, including the unveiling of the MyPlate food icon, stronger nutrition guidelines for school meals and commitments from leading grocers such as Walmart to introduce and promote healthier food and open locations in underserved areas known as food deserts.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack noted that those changes are already having an effect, pointing to the fact that obesity rates did not rise last year.

Obama herself admits she had initial doubts about whether there was anything she could do to help reverse childhood obesity. But in the new issue of the journal Childhood Obesity, she writes that the progress that has been made keeps her motivated.

Military Unveils Nutrition Changes

First Lady Michelle Obama didn’t just celebrate this week — she also announced big changes for the nation’s military. Reuters reports Obama and Pentagon introduced nutritional improvements that will bring more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other healthy food to 1.45 million troops each day at military facilities.

Former Detroit Lions Star Tackles Childhood Obesity

Retired Detroit Lions defensive tackle Luther Ellis teamed up with the United Dairy Industry of Michigan, the Lions and NFL Fuel Up to Play 60 at an event to encourage children to eat healthy and exercise, the Morning Sun reports. Ellis told the newspaper that he found himself gaining weight after his playing days ended, and that led him to want to help others. “What happens after you leave the game, you’re not burning [calories] off at the same rate but you’re still consuming them. I was guilty too. I put on 50-pounds almost,” Ellis said.

Breastfeeding Can Reduce Obesity Risk for Kids of Diabetic Moms

Children born out of diabetic pregnancies have a higher risk of suffering from childhood obesity, but breastfeeding can reduce that risk, according to a new study released this week by the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Health. The Examiner reports that the study found children of diabetic mothers who are breastfeed for at least six months are less likely to become obese than babies who were not.

Hammond Says Playgrounds Part of Obesity Solution

Darell Hammond, who has helped build more than 2,000 playgrounds nationwide through the nonprofit he founded 15 years ago, wrote an op-ed this week arguing time for play is a vital part of the effort to reduce childhood obesity. In the Huffington Post, the KaBoom! executive director writes that “providing our young children with opportunities for free, child-directed play, along with proper nutrition, we are setting them up for a lifetime of healthy habits, versus interventions needed later in life.”

We chatted with Hammond last summer about KaBoom! — be sure to check it out.

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