The fourth annual National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month kicks off September 1, encouraging all Americans to take steps to reduce the effects of the childhood obesity epidemic in the U.S. More than 23 million children and teenagers in the United States are overweight or obese, according to recent data. Childhood obesity is linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, breathing problems, joint problems, fatty liver disease and other health concerns. The epidemic also places a financial burden on all of us: Obesity requires $14 billion per year in direct health care costs in the U.S.
Childhood Obesity Awareness Month was created to fight this negative trend in our next generation’s health. COAM embodies the principle Think globally; act locally. All are invited to take action in their own communities and organizations to build awareness about the causes and implications of childhood obesity and – most important – to take steps to prevent and combat it. The COAM movement has no official leadership structure. Though recognized by Congress and the White House and promoted by the American College of Sports Medicine and other partners, it is an alliance of diverse advocates who recognize that eating sensibly and being physically active are keys to better health and quality of life. Co-benefits for society include reduced health-care costs, better worker productivity and student achievement, and reduced environmental impact as more people enjoy active transportation.
“Kids are less physically active now than any previous generation, and it’s reflected in a spectrum of ways, none of which are positive,” said William W. Dexter, M.D., president of the American College of Sports Medicine. “Research leaves no doubt that being active is a key to maintaining fitness and a healthy weight. I hope everyone from health professionals and parents to those in corporations and community groups will do what they can to promote awareness and action toward reducing childhood obesity.”
To get involved in Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, simply determine how you can take steps to further the cause. Check out the brand-new COAM Month website; use the toolkit available at www.coam-month.org; adapt what others have tried; see how you can build awareness and action toward our shared goal. Look for opportunities in your organization and your community. In doing so, you are contributing to better individual health and quality of life for all. This month, you’re encouraged to take action to reverse this trend by spreading the message about the benefits of physical activity and leading a healthy lifestyle. Download our online toolkit – complete with sample PSAs, proclamations, and news releases – for quick, easy ideas for bringing Childhood Obesity Awareness Month to your community.