There’s a joke here in Georgia – “Thank God for Mississippi” – because if it wasn’t for our neighbor to the west we would be last in most national polls. It holds true for the national childhood obesity rate. Yep, we have the second highest one, right behind Mississippi. The second highest childhood obesity rate in the country. In a state with plenty of sunshine. No excuse not to get outside and play. In a state with abundant peach orchards and poulty farms and peanuts. Fruits, lean proteins, healthy snacks. It’s also a state where Southern cooking and tradition and yes, poverty mean those peaches are made to stretch in a sugary cobbler. The chicken is fried. And the peanuts top a hot fudge sundae. Our children are gaining weight at an alarming rate and they are carrying it into adulthood with diabetes and heart disease. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has launched a controversial ad campaign against childhood obesity. It features overweight kids talking about how tough it is to be an overweight kid. The state has launched a fitness program in every school where a child’s weight, height, and BMI are measured and they must pass a physical fitness test. Run a mile. Do push-ups. Do sit-ups. This too is proving controversial because parents are worried about where that info is going and what it’s being used for. They’re worried about how their child will feel and about how the other children will treat them. And we here at CBS Atlanta are partnering with the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to put a salad bar in every school cafeteria. Salad bars filled with fruits, veggies, whole grains, and proteins, that kids can use as their daily meal or as a way to supplement their hot school lunch or lunch from home. Controversy? No. Resistance? Yes. It seems some schools are reluctant to change or worried about cost (taken care of) or they simply think the kids won’t like it. Why so much push back on an issue that is clearly reaching epidemic proportions in our state? My humble opinion is Responsibilty with a capital R. Who is responsible for this? Who wants to take responsibility? I personally feel it is the parents’ repsonsbility. The child bears some as well. But I’m all for making it easier for kids and their parents to make healthier choices when they’re being responsible. I’m proud of our Fit Kids, Fit Families campaign we debuted this week. I’m proud of the children’s hospital, our football team, our state health department, and our schools for talking about this problem, for taking the first steps in tackling this problem, and for cutting through the controversy and resistance to end this problem. Now kids, it’s your turn. Make us proud.
Below is a link to the Fit Kids, Fit Families section on our website.