By Sarah Ohlhorst, ASN Director of Government Relations
The White House recently issued a proclamation declaring September as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. ASN has served as a national partner of National Childhood Obesity Awareness since 2010, along with other organizations including America on the Move, American College of Sports Medicine, and HealthCorps. In July, the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) endorsed a resolution introduced by Representatives Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Kay Granger (R-TX) re-designating the month of September as Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Educational efforts and events are taking place throughout the entire month of September to bring national attention to the issue of childhood obesity. For example, Nickelodeon is planning a September 24 Worldwide Day of Play– a “blackout” day with zero television programming!
Obesity rates worldwide have doubled in the last three decades, according to a number of articles recently published in The Lancet as part of an obesity series. Globally, an estimated 170 million children under the age of 18 are overweight or obese. In some countries, this includes more than 25% of all children. In the U.S., approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese. Being overweight or obese as a child increases the risk of developing additional diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes and increases the likelihood of becoming an overweight or obese adult. The hospital costs associated with childhood obesity alone were estimated at $237.6 million in 2005.
ASN supports research to elucidate the etiology of childhood obesity, which is a multifactorial epidemic affecting the majority of Americans. Through translational research, ASN members are working to understand how obesity develops and negatively impacts the health of individuals. With this basic knowledge, they are developing and evaluating strategies to prevent obesity in individuals, to aid and maintain weight loss, and to identify and advocate for environmental and policy changes that best support a healthy weight in the U.S. population.
“ASN has increased our focus on the issue of obesity as its impact becomes more and more widespread, including establishing an Obesity Working Group with members who are leading obesity researchers to develop an obesity platform” said ASN Executive Officer John Courtney, PhD. “It is vital that NIH and USDA receive the funding they need so our scientists can continue their research into childhood obesity, it causes, and how to lessen its negative impact.”
Do your part to support National Childhood Obesity Month – help encourage healthy behaviors like regular exercise and good nutrition in your own city or state this month and throughout the year!