May 04 2015

NATIONAL PHYSICAL FITNESS AND SPORTS MONTH, 2015: A Presidential Proclamation!

A PROCLAMATION BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA     Sports are a fundamental part of American culture.  They foster our country's competitive drive, help us stay healthy, and teach us what it takes to succeed -- not only on the softball diamond or the basketball court, but also in life. Sports and fitness reflect our national character, and they help us unlock our full potential.  During National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, we recognize parents, coaches, educators, and all those who instill in our children the importance of regular exercise, and we invite all people to invest in their own wellbeing by finding a way to be active each day. Physical fitness is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle.  Regular exercise can produce long-term health benefits; it can help prevent chronic diseases, combat obesity, relieve stress, and increase the chances of living longer.  By making physical activity part of your daily routine -- at least 30 minutes for adults and 60 minutes for children -- you can put yourself on the path to better physical and mental health. This year marks the fifth anniversary of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative, which has helped increase opportunities for physical activity and inspire Americans of all ages to lead healthy, active lives.  To celebrate, the First Lady is challenging everyone to #GimmeFive things they are doing to eat better, be more active, and ...

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Feb 25 2014

The White House and USDA Announce School Wellness Standards

First Lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announce proposed school wellness standards and roll out of breakfast and lunch programs for schools that serve low income communities WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2014 – Today, First Lady Michelle Obama joins U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to announce proposed guidelines for local school wellness policies. The bipartisan Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 mandated that the USDA set guidelines for what needed to be included in local school wellness policies in areas such as setting goals for nutrition education and physical activity, informing parents about content of the policy and implementation, and periodically assessing progress and sharing updates as appropriate. As part of local school wellness policies, the proposed guidelines would ensure that foods and beverages marketed to children in schools are consistent with the recently-released Smart Snacks in School standards. Ensuring that unhealthy food is not marketed to children is one of the First Lady's top priorities; that is why it is so important for schools to reinforce the importance of healthy choices and eliminate marketing of unhealthy products. "The idea here is simple—our classrooms should be healthy places where kids aren't bombarded with ads for junk food," said First Lady Michelle Obama. "Because when parents are working hard to teach their kids healthy habits at home, their work shouldn't be undone by unhealthy messages at school." This ...

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Jan 25 2014

First Lady Michelle Obama Announces Licensing Agreement With Sesame Workshop

Press Release From The White House and Office of the First Lady: State Dining Room MRS. OBAMA: Thank you, everyone. (Applause.) Good afternoon. Well, welcome to the White House. I'm thrilled to have you all here today. As many of you know, last month, we held the first ever White House Convening on food marketing for children. And I stood in this exact room in this exact same spot with representatives from America’s leading companies and organizations. And I issued a simple challenge: I challenged those leaders to market food more responsibly to our children. I challenged them to use creative, innovative marketing strategies to get our kids excited about healthy foods. And today, just six weeks later, it is no surprise that Sesame Workshop was the first organization to answer this call. Because that, more than anything else, is Sesame Workshop’s mission: To help our kids learn and grow and fulfill every last bit of their potential. And that’s why, nearly a decade ago, Sesame Workshop created their Healthy Habits for Life initiative to teach kids about healthy eating and exercise. And that is why, today, they’re taking the unprecedented step of letting America’s produce companies use Sesame Street Muppet characters to get kids excited about eating fruits and vegetables, and they’re doing this free of charge. Yes! ...

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Feb 12 2012

February is American Heart Month: A Statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

February is American Heart Month; a month to spread awareness about the importance of heart health. Each year, countless American families are impacted by heart disease and stroke. Although its risk factors can be prevented or controlled, it is still the leading cause of death for all Americans, and accounts for $1 out of every $6 dollars spent on health care.  Fortunately, there are many simple steps we can take to prevent heart disease such as eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and not smoking. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is working with both public and private partners to raise awareness of heart disease through vital research investments and public health programs. The Million Hearts Initiative takes aim at this disease, with a goal of preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next 5 years. Other efforts, like the HeartTruth, which addresses women’s heart health, and the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, which confronts childhood obesity by helping children choose healthy foods and stay active, work to provide people with resources and ways to make heart healthy changes in their everyday lives . And thanks to the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, new health plans must now cover recommended preventive services, including blood pressure screening for all adults and cholesterol screening for adults of certain ages or at higher risk, cost-free. This month, as we take time to ...

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Mar 28 2011

Take the Million PALA Challenge!: Graehm Gray

As you all know, my pal Nerdel and I are big supporters of the Presidents Challenge and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move programs. The intent of both of these fantastic programs is to get all Americans, young and old, into better shape. Both programs encourage you to eat healthier meals and snacks at school, at home, at work and whenever you go out to eat! And both programs emphasize the need to perform some type of physical fitness activity each and every day.  The Presidents Challenge program has many individual activity categories based on age and lifestyle and you can earn many cool awards and medals by registering your fitness performance. Here’s a little history: On September 14th, 2010, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius along with the co-Chair of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition-Dominique Dawes and Let’s Move Executive Director Robin Schepper, launched the Million PALA (President's Active Lifestyle Award) Challenge. The goal of the Million PALA Challenge is to get 1,000,000 youth and adults, from all over the United  States, to sign up and participate in the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) over the year.  The ending date is slowly approaching-September 2011. How does the Million PALA Challenge work? “The Presidential Active Lifestyle Award, or PALA, can be earned by taking part in 60 minutes of physical activity for kids ...

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Jul 19 2010

Graehm Gray: House Education and Labor Committee passes the Child Nutrition Reauthorization

Let’s congratulate our bipartisan representatives in the United States Congress for passing the legislation: Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act (H.R. 5504) on July 14th, 2010.  We are all aware that millions of kids come to school each and every morning hungry. According to Share Our Strength (Strength.org), over 12 million kids go to sleep each night with food insecurity. And we also know that the only chance at a healthy and nutritious meal (breakfast and or lunch) for these children is at school. There have been multiple studies published that demonstrate the importance and benefit of an adequate breakfast on the learning and skills of children. What will this legislation do? Here are the highlights: Improve Access to School Meal Programs Increase the number of eligible children enrolled in the school lunch programs by using Medicaid/SCHIP data to directly certify children who meet income requirements without requiring individual applications and requiring states to establish and execute a plan to increase rates of direct certification. Provide enhanced universal meal access for eligible children in high poverty communities by eliminating paper applications and using census data to determine school wide income eligibility. Increase children’s access to healthy school breakfasts by providing competitive grants to school districts to start up or improve their program. Improve Access to Out of School Meal Programs Ensure fewer children go hungry year round by providing meals ...

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Jun 12 2010

Graehm Gray: Can Video Games Help Reduce Childhood Obesity?

Like many of you out there, I bought the Wii (Nintendo) video game for my daughter when it came out.  The tennis was cool and the boxing was an interesting challenge.  I liked having the ability of physical movement and the responses that were reflected in the game.  My daughter liked building the avatars and playing the music and dance games.  My initial opinion, prior to playing the game, was that I didn’t think that a video game could allow me to get enough exercise and be physical enough to equal a sport or going into the gym.  After all, I was use to Pac-man and old fashion pinball where there was some excitement, a little gyrating but no real physicality. But after playing all the Wii games included in the base package including baseball and bowling, I was amazed at the work out that I was getting.  So as usual, I decided to do a bit of research to see if there were any actual studies that confirmed my actual findings.  Drs. Mellecker and McManus of the Institute of Human Performance-University of Hong Kong, performed research on activity and video gaming in kids and reported in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, that, “active gaming media results in meaningful increases in energy expenditure and ...

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May 23 2010

Graehm Gray: I Had A Dream….

My friends, I had a wonderful dream that I want to share with you: It all started as I awakened one morning, and smelled some incredible aroma coming from the kitchen. I walked downstairs to find the table set with all sorts of colorful fresh vegetables and fruits. I saw egg whites, and hard boiled eggs. Whole grain breads and muffins were baking. Wow, what a terrific smell. My wife and kids were already sitting and eating and the topic of discussion was how to stay fit and healthy! I couldn’t believe it. But it was as real as it could be! Even the television, which is consistently tuned to either  CWTV’s “America’s Top Model,” Food Channel’s “Food Challenge,” Travel Channel’s-“Andrew Zimmern,” or even TLC’s “Buddy Valastro of Carlo's City Hall Bake Shop in Hoboken, New Jersey,”-now was showing a Science Channel (Discovery) show on the Universe with Stephen Hawking Stephen Hawking's Universe). Am I dreaming? I guess I was, but it was sweet! Even better was when I asked my kids how school was, and they answered that it was “great” and that they were learning about organic foods in the organic garden they had at school and they even prepared some basic recipes in the “kitchen.” I couldn’t believe my ears! Organic garden, organic foods, kitchen-which dimension had I awakened in? My daughter continued to describe the yoga and Tai Chi ...

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May 19 2010

Graehm Gray: The White House To Reduce 1.5 Trillion Calories From Food and Beverage by 2015! Yes We Can!

First Lady Michelle Obama, in a press conference with members of the Food and Beverage Industry,   announced that the Partnership for a Healthier America has signed an agreement with The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF) whose members are pledging to take actions aimed at reducing 1.5 trillion product calories by the end of 2015.  As an interim step to this goal, HWCF will seek to reduce calories by 1 trillion in 2012.  “Solving the obesity epidemic requires far more than anything government can do alone and today’s announcement represents an important step forward to providing Americans with healthier choices so that they can choose to lead healthier lives,” said Mrs. Obama, who also serves as honorary chair of the Partnership.  “This is precisely the kind of private sector commitment we need.  I want to thank the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation for stepping up to the plate and I hope this encourages others to do the same.”  “On behalf of the Partnership, I am pleased to acknowledge this major first step by the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation.  Pledges like this one – with targeted and achievable results that are meaningful and measurable – will help us reach our goal of curbing childhood obesity within a generation,” said Dr. James R. Gavin III, chairman of the Partnership’s board of directors. So how will these companies do it? Here is their plan: growing and introducing lower-calorie options changing ...

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May 17 2010

Graehm Gray: The White House Weighs In On Childhood Obesity

The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity issued a report to the President on childhood obesity on May 13th, 2010 entitled: Solving The Problem Of Childhood Obesity Within A Generation. It is a summary of recommendations on how to approach the epidemic and focuses on four “priority” areas: 1. Empowering parents and caregivers; 2. Providing healthy foods in schools; 3. Improving access to healthy, affordable foods; and 4. Increasing physical activity. The goal for the Task Force is “returning to a childhood obesity rate of just 5% by 2030.” Can this be achieved? I am not so certain. Of course additional indicators such as measuring the number of children eating a healthy diet, making sure that children eat less sugar in their diet, increasing fruits and vegetables and increasing physical activity will be extremely important for the success of this plan.  The report indicates that: A. one in every three children (31.7%) ages 2-19 is overweight or obese,  B. that obesity is estimated to cause 112,000 deaths per year in the United States, C. one third of all children born in the year 2000 are expected to develop diabetes and D. even more starling that the current generation may be on track to have a shorter lifespan than their parents. Additional points from the report are the following: Each year obese adults incur an estimated $1429 more in medical expenses than ...

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