HHS Secretary and Surgeon General Join First Lady to Announce Plans to Combat Obesity

First Lady Michelle Obama, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin announced plans to help Americans lead healthier lives through better nutrition, regular physical activity and by encouraging communities to support healthy choices. At a YMCA in Alexandria, Va., they talked directly with national and local leaders, parents and health professionals about reducing overweight and obesity in adults and children.

Obama announced that she will launch a major initiative on childhood obesity and has asked HHS to play a key role. HHS released the Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation. In her first release to the nation, Benjamin highlights the alarming trend of overweight and obese Americans, and asks them to join her in a grassroots effort to commit to changes that promote the health and wellness of our families and communities.

“The surge in obesity in this country is nothing short of a public health crisis that is threatening our children, our families, and our future,” Obama, said in a news release. “In fact, the health consequences are so severe that medical experts have warned that our children could be on track to live shorter lives than their parents.”

The prevalence of obesity has more than doubled among adults and has tripled among children and adolescents from 1980 to 2004. Currently, two-thirds of adults and nearly one in three children are overweight or obese. Increased food intake, a sedentary lifestyle, and environments that make it difficult for people to make healthy choices but easy to consume extra calories, are all contributing factors.

“Curbing the obesity epidemic requires committed people and organizations across the nation working together to take action,” Sebelius said.

The recommendations in the Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation include: improving our communities, offering healthier choices and healthier home environments, creating healthy child care settings, schools, work sites and mobilizing medical communities.

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