Celebrating with the First Lady

March 05, 2014

Good news for healthier students

By Rochelle Davis, President + CEO, Healthy Schools Campaign

Let’s celebrate some good news! A recent report released by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and published in the Journal of American Medicine showed that obesity rates declined for children ages 2 to 5 over the past decade. While it is too early to know how this will impact all children, and whether this is a lasting trend, it is important to take a moment to celebrate this bright spot. We know that healthful lifestyles begin in the home, and schools and families must work together to support healthful food, messages and lifestyles.

More good news came from Washington last week, as the First Lady celebrated the 4th Anniversary of Let’s Move, an initiative to reverse the trend in childhood obesity within a generation. I was thrilled to be invited to the White House when Mrs. Obama made a series of announcements to support healthy eating and physical activity in communities and schools across America. The First Lady highlighted the positive changes that are happening in schools across the nation: “Here in America, healthy habits are becoming the new norm. And nowhere is that more clear than in our schools…”

The First Lady’s announcements last week included the following:

  • Proposed new rules which would significantly strengthen school wellness policies and restrict the marketing of junk food in schools.

  • Increasing student access to school meals by removing some of the red tape that makes it challenging for low-income families to qualify for free or reduced meals.

  • Proposed changes to nutritional labels on food that will make it easier for everyone to read and understand what they are eating. Labels are being redesigned to highlight calories, true serving sizes and added sugar.

HSC has long been working to make healthier food, nutrition education and physical activity available to all students. Our work focuses on empowering parents, principals, teachers and school nurses so that they can lead these healthy efforts. We recently supported 200 Chicago schools serving 90,000 students as they successfully incorporated nutrition education, healthy food and physical activity in the school experience.

We are thrilled that the First Lady is so committed to supporting student health and look forward to more good news as we, and our partners across the country, continue to work to address childhood obesity and support the health of all young people.