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Obama Targets Childhood Obesity: One-Quarter of CT Children Qualify

September 3, 2010

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - One in four Connecticut children is overweight or obese, according to a study an expert submitted to the state legislature just last month. And September marks the first-ever Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, declared by President Obama in order to focus attention on the issue.

Marlene Schwartz of the Rudd Center on Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, who wrote the report, says she's glad to see the issue highlighted. However, she adds, "If it had been up to me I would have focused it on promoting child nutrition, or promoting physical activity for kids, and really having it focused on the behaviors, as opposed to the medical outcome."

Over the past 30 years, as obesity rates have risen steadily, Schwartz notes that kids haven't changed much but their environment - including food consumption and activity levels - has. She points to three intertwined problems.

"Factors that have changed are the amount of food available, the quality of the food available, as well as the amount of sedentary behavior that kids engage in now, which has really shifted."

The solution she proposes lies in re-creating more of the lifestyle that American kids led before the epidemic hit.

"I recommend things like preparing more meals at home, where it tends to be healthier than eating out at restaurants; having children eat healthy lunches at school; and getting into the habit of not having a snack every time you turn around."

Melinda Tuhus, Public News Service - CT