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Press Release

Finding Causes and Solutions: American Dietetic Association Supports First Lady's Childhood Obesity Initiative

2010-02-09

Media Contacts: Ryan O'Malley, Allison MacMunn
800/877-1600, ext. 4769, 4802 media@eatright.org

CHICAGO – The American Dietetic Association on Tuesday, February 9, commended the Obama Administration for its commitment to solving the national problem of childhood obesity in one generation. ADA and its 70,000 members strongly support the announcements of a nationwide initiative to be led by First Lady Michelle Obama and the creation by President Obama of a federal interagency task force on childhood obesity.

"Few if any issues matter more than the health of our nation's children," said registered dietitian and American Dietetic Association President Jessie M. Pavlinac. "The American Dietetic Association has long held that obesity is a complicated issue that requires the combined involvement of families, schools, government, communities and health professionals such as registered dietitians to address this national health crisis.

"Both the First Lady's initiative, 'Let's Move,' and the president's task force are committed to addressing the wide range of obesity's causes and solutions," Pavlinac said. "Our nation has paid a high price for overlooking or ignoring the important role of food and nutrition in improving people's health – a price paid in lives and dollars alike," Pavlinac said.

The four main elements of the First Lady's initiative and the task force's objectives focus on ensuring access to healthy, affordable food; increasing physical activity in schools and communities; providing healthier food in schools; and empowering parents with information and tools to make good choices for themselves and their families.

"ADA has long believed – and our members help consumers understand – that safe and healthful weight management is a lifelong process, and there is no better time than the early years to start lifelong eating and exercise habits that contribute to health maintenance and disease prevention," Pavlinac said. "Today's announcement supports ADA's position that parents are vital to their children's nutrition. We can teach children about healthy foods, practice what we teach and make sure physical activity is incorporated into each day.

"In our schools, ADA is committed to strengthening federal nutrition programs and focusing child nutrition reauthorization efforts on enhancing nutrition education, improving environments to support healthy food and beverage choices and developing a comprehensive, behavior-based research agenda," Pavlinac said.

"To make these recommendations a reality, ADA calls on Congress and the Administration to work together to secure funds for program improvements and to quickly pass a strong reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act that improves the health and nutrition of our nation's children," Pavlinac said. "We encourage Congress to require qualified nutrition professionals such as registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered in all child nutrition programs and to strengthen nutrition education and promotion as part of the reauthorization."

ADA believes a lack of access to healthful foods in the community and home is a significant contributing factor in childhood obesity, and a coordinated approach to both problems in the short and long terms is needed, Pavlinac said. "Healthy weight for children and a supportive nutrition environment go hand in hand," she said.

Improving children's nutrition and health is a high priority of the American Dietetic Association and its members. The ADA Foundation, American Council for Fitness and Nutrition and PE4life have joined together to deliver the Healthy Schools Partnership program, working together to offer long-term solutions to the youth obesity epidemic. The program places registered dietitians in schools as "RD Nutrition Coaches" who work with physical education teachers to help children change eating behaviors with short, one-on-one sessions while being physically active. For more information on the program, visit www.eatright.org/foundation.

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The American Dietetic Association is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the American Dietetic Association at www.eatright.org.

Let's Move! is a nationwide initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama that seeks to solve the challenge of childhood obesity so that America's youngest children reach adulthood at a healthy weight. The Let's Move! campaign has an ambitious but important goal: to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation. Visit the campaign online at www.letsmove.gov.