At the Summit: Partnerships and Actions to Reduce Childhood Obesity

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Last week’s 2014 summit of the Partnership for a Healthier America showed inspiring results from a growing number of non-profit, government and corporate collaborations for “Building a Healthier Future.”

The conference focused on how the many sectors in our society can support children – and Americans in general – in reducing obesity levels. And that’s important for cancer prevention, because after not smoking, obesity is the single largest risk factor for cancer.

Celebrating its fourth year, the Partnership’s meeting was graced by uplifting remarks from First Lady Michelle Obama, whose initiative Let’s Move to reduce childhood obesity and increase physical activity and healthy eating in hundreds of schools has been pivotal for the public-private partnerships now expanding that theme.

Food companies, food service conglomerates like Sodexo and Aramark, Farm to School chef celebrities and organic farmers all spoke about how they can play a role in better health. Food companies pledged to formulate healthier products, such as Dannon’s pledge to reduce sugar content in yogurt. Regional food retailer Kwik-Trip, which operates in the Midwest, prepares healthy, low-cost fresh foods and devotes a large amount of shelf space to them. The physical fitness program of the military called “Mission: Readiness” is geared toward getting the many overweight young people who enlist into better physical shape.

A big concern was making healthy foods and drinks affordable – such as taking sugary sodas and fast foods (and their advertisements) out of schools and selling bottled water at lower prices. Sessions covered: improved access and affordability of healthy foods; making communities more friendly to physical activity; providing health-promoting early childhood centers; making breastfeeding accepted and supported by employers and communities.

Other discussions focused on improving institutional foods in sports arenas, correctional facilities and hospitals; and marketing fruits and vegetables in new ways to communities at all economic levels and all populations. As AICR emphasizes, a healthy diet and daily physical activity can help people feel better and then improve their health instead of being stuck on a track for serious health problems.

Several speakers noted that we only have a short time to turn the problem of obesity, which cuts across all populations, around before catastrophic health problems cripple the nation. That means engaging families and ultimately making healthy choices second nature because they are desirable.

Find out more about the Partnership, its members and their programs. Read more about how to enjoy a healthier lifestyle every day for cancer prevention.


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