Focus on Fitness, Nutrition, and Obesity

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There’s no way around it: We are getting fat. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the rate of obesity globally has more than doubled since 1980. Today, approximately 200 million men and 300 million women are obese. But the problem extends to those who can’t always fend for themselves. The number of overweight and obese infants and children, the majority of whom live in developing countries, has increased from 32 million worldwide in 1990 to 42 million in 2013, with the number projected to reach 70 million by 2025.

When first lady Michelle Obama announced her Let’s Move! initiative in 2010, she said, “We've got to stop citing statistics and wringing our hands and feeling guilty and get going on this issue.”

There are many ways you can do that. Education about and access to nutritious food and an increase in daily activity are two of the most powerful tools that can help people reach and maintain a healthy weight. And we’re not just talking about that New Year’s resolution. Make healthy eating and regular exercise part of your daily life. Join with neighbors to start a community garden, or support urban farms that make fresh vegetables and fruits available in underserved areas. Teach healthy cooking classes at your neighborhood school, or volunteer as a coach at your local rec center to help kids get more active.

As part of our 2016 Global Days of Service, Walden community members packaged meals at Feed My Starving Children in Tempe, Arizona, and cooked healthy meals for families of sick children at the Ronald McDonald House in Amsterdam. Although these acts may seem small, they go a long way toward improving access to nutritious food and combating this worldwide epidemic.

What you can do:

AWARENESS: HealthyPeople.gov and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide the latest statistics about obesity and steps every person can take to help reverse the epidemic by making healthier food choices and getting regular exercise. For a global perspective, the WHO offers international statistics and other resources.

ACTION: Action for Healthy Kids has information on childhood obesity, as well as volunteer opportunities, such as organizing family fitness nights, encouraging the inclusion of healthy snacks and lunches in the cafeteria, and advocating with your school district to enact health and wellness programs and policies, to help kids get more active and achieve academic success.

ADVOCACY: The Food Trust works to ensure that healthy food is available to everyone across the country and through partnerships overseas. It offers a range of volunteer and fundraising opportunities for individuals, groups, and companies to advocate on the institutional, city, state, and federal level. Some of those opportunities include creating and implementing healthy in-store marketing policies in supermarkets and corner stores; working with organizations to secure funding for healthy food access programs in low-income areas; and advocating for the national Healthy Food Financing Initiative, a partnership between the U.S. Departments of the Treasury, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services to encourage fresh food retail development across the country.

Meet the experts:

In our Winter/Spring 2014 issue, we talked with three faculty members about the issue of childhood obesity. Take a look back at their thoughts.
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