In an effort to help stem the tide of childhood obesity in the U.S., former President Bill Clinton has secured an $8 million grant to aid in the battle against this growing epidemic with dangerous long-term health consequences.
Clinton and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have unveiled a new campaign aimed at fighting childhood obesity through better nutrition as well as increased exercise at school.
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which is backed by Mr. Clinton, will also work to improve teachersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ health so that they can be healthy role models for students.
“We want to halt the growth of childhood obesity by 2010 and reverse the trend by 2015,” said Clinton.
In the U.S. at present, mover 9 million children over the age of 6 are already considered obese. Since the 1970s obesity rates have tripled among U.S. children in the 6 to 11 age group.
According to Clinton, who has battled a weight problem himself: Ã¢â‚¬Å“If the present trends continue, this generation could be the first to have shorter expected life spans than their parents.”
Clinton announced the campaign at a news conference at one of the Manhattan elementary schools that will participate in the program.
As education budgets have tightened across the country, teaching the value of a healthy diet and exercise has been forced into the background. Ã‚Â The limited money available in education budgets goes mostly toward academic-related expenses leaving exercise programs and food services shortchanged.
Simply stated, health and fitness have suffered more and more as the amount of available school funding has diminished.
ClintonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s program will work with food suppliers to find low-cost, healthy meals and snacks for students. It will also negotiate with sporting goods suppliers to provide more affordable athletic equipment for physical education classes.
“We want to help to change the economics that are keeping schools from providing better meal options and greater access to physical activity,” Clinton said.
At first, 253 schools in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are slated to participate in the program.