HUMAN Joins the Political Front to End Childhood Obesity
CEO Sean Kelly Attends Partnership for a Healthier America’s Inaugural “Building a Healthier Future” Summit in Washington, DC
The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), which works with the private sector and First Lady Michelle Obama to solve the nation’s obesity crisis, hosted its first national summit last week on November 29th and 30th, 2011.
HUMAN’s CEO, Sean Kelly, was among 800 business leaders, community leaders, academic experts, and government officials invited to the Building a Healthier Future Summit.
The summit was a forum to share experiences, form partnerships, and announce substantive commitments to aid the fight against childhood obesity.
The Challenges We Face
The two honorary vice chairs of PHA, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Mayor Cory Booker, laid out the challenges the nation faces as a result of the impact of childhood obesity–specifically its impact on the economy, the health care system, and military. Senator Frist told of the enormous changes that are happening in the market place. Companies providing healthful foods are showing higher profits and enhanced competitiveness.
Mayor Booker challenged the conference attendees—including private businesses—to work together to make change.
Booker compared childhood obesity to past challenges such as the abolition of slavery or defeating Nazi Germany, telling the audience that ”the greatest threat to our democracy in America is the health and education of our children.”
Summit Breakout Sessions
The conference was organized around four tracks: Schools, Early Childcare, Physical Activity and Access to Healthy, Affordable Food. Breakout sessions were rich with conversation and explored how to create healthier environments in schools and childcare centers, as well as how to encourage shoppers to buy healthier and locally-grown foods. They also explored private sector partnerships that would have the greatest potential to generate movement and play amongst our nation’s youth.
HUMAN attended the Early Childcare track, which focused on innovative strategies for creating healthy childcare environments. Childcare centers are ten years behind other educational facilities when it comes to promoting health and wellness. More than 20% of children ages 2 to 5 in the United States are currently overweight or obese. Since many young children spend a large percentage of time in childcare, childcare facilities, preschools, and other early learning and care settings, they are critical venues for preventing obesity and promoting healthy behaviors during the early childhood years.
Sean assumed a “corporate convener” role in the Early Childcare breakout session, “Caretakers as Role Models: Worksite Wellness in Childcare Facilities,” in which he provided an example of ways that HUMAN has committed to promoting healthier child care settings. The breakout session identified strategies for engaging childcare providers in healthy lifestyle activities to change cultural norms for adults around healthy living for themselves and the children they care for.
Michelle Obama’s Call to Action
The major highlight of the conference came on the second day. First Lady Michelle Obama joined the summit crowd to deliver a call to action on physical activity. She announced that the next initiatives for her “Let’s Move!” campaign will focus on encouraging physical activity among young people, who she said suffer from a “crisis of inactivity.”
The Building a Healthier Future Summit was a great way for HUMAN to break into the political sphere to help end childhood obesity. This is a national issue that will only get worse. We can help eliminate food deserts by increasing access to healthful foods AND educate children on why those choices are needed.
We have to seriously start changing the way we feed our kids. We need to start educating young, since we are the gatekeepers of the food kids put in their mouths.