By Grace Austin
The statistics are shocking yet shamefully unsurprising. One-third of children are obese. Minority and low-income children are more at risk of being overweight and obese as well—research shows one in five black children are obese and almost half of obese children live below the poverty line.
Low-income and minority children are often exposed to less healthy foods, due to lifestyle or affordability, and often don’t have access to areas where they can exercise, like parks and yards.
Obesity, as many know, has profound consequences for children and adults. It can often lead to asthma, diabetes and amputations, bone and joint issues, heart disease, and premature death. The CDC claims more than $147 billion are being spent on treating childhood obesity and its related diseases.
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation (created by those Clintons: Bill, Hilary, and Chelsea), is tackling the incredible goal of ending childhood obesity.
The Alliance has developed big-name collaborations with Brita, Kaiser Permanente, the Reebok Foundation, Walgreen′s, and the Walmart Foundation to accomplish this.
The organization’s goal is to use the various ways children are exposed to and affected by food: in the home, at school, at after school programs, and in the doctor’s office, to affect change.
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Programs, created in 2006, are now present at more than 16,000 schools in all states.
The Programs began to look at food available to kids at school and approached the various industries and companies, like the American Beverage Association, Kraft Foods, and PepsiCo, to think about reducing calories and creating affordable foods. Many signed an agreement to reduce 90 percent of calories from beverages shipped to schools.
The Healthy Schools Programs were recently awarded $51 million from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropy designed to improve the health of Americans, a benchmark of the merits, significance, and success of the programs so far.
Fifteen percent of children are involved in an after school program. Healthy Out-of-School Time focuses on making the clubs, camps, and after school programs children spend their time at outside of the school and home healthy as well, especially focusing on healthy eating and physical activity.
The Healthier Generation Benefit has got more than 56,000 doctors and dieticians involved to provide care and treatment to fighting childhood obesity. Aetna, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, WellPoint, Humana, Highmark Inc., and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts are all offering this benefit.
To get involved, please visit healthiergeneration.org.