Jackie Weighs In…On the First Lady’s Childhood Obesity Initiative

    First Lady Michelle Obama’s Childhood Obesity Initiative

Why are we Americans getting so fat? It’s a problem that is raging out of control in this country – and especially alarming is the increasing obesity rate among children. Is it the lack of pedestrian-friendly streets that require parents to drive kids to school instead of having them walk? The lack of physical education in schools on a consistent basis? Video games, email and text messaging instead of playing outside or walking over to talk to people? Is it genetics? Portion sizes? Lack of strong will? TV commercials?

Maybe it’s a bit of all of these things – but it’s a widening problem. and the First Lady will have a real challenge on her hands. Extra pounds can put young children at risk for adult ills such as heart disease, gallstones and diabetes. Obesity can lead to a fatty liver, a dangerous condition that in some children can result in cirrhosis. Being overweight can affect the gallbladder, pancreas, lungs, heart, and digestive system. And depression, which is a common partner of obesity, can affect the brain’s response to leptin, the hormone that makes us feel full, thereby affecting the brain.

As a mother, I sympathize with moms who are facing the challenge of keeping kids at a healthy weight without focusing on the outward appearance. Remember, it’s about health – not appearance. It’s about performance, not the perception of others. Be a role model for your kids, and they will integrate the message about health and vitality.