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Obamas: 'Let's move' against obesity

  |   Feb. 9, 2010 at 1:38 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama, his wife looking on, signed a memorandum Tuesday setting up a federal task force to tackle childhood obesity.

During the signing ceremony, Obama recognized the groundwork first lady Michelle Obama and several Cabinet secretaries "have done in trying to tackle one of the most urgent health issues that we face in this country, and that is the increase of childhood obesity."

Michelle Obama later kicked off "Let's Move," an effort involving public and private sectors to coordinate public information available to help parents get their children to be more physically active and eat healthier foods. The Web site, LetsMove.gov, also was unveiled as a one-stop resource for parents.

"Let's Move is a campaign that will rally our nation to achieve a single but ambitious goal of solving the problem of childhood obesity in a generation, so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight," the first lady said.

Overcoming childhood obesity is not a political or government issue, she said, and it depends on "commonsense steps we can take in our families and communities to help our kids lead active, healthy lives."

Obama said the initiative includes working with companies such as Walt Disney Co., NBC Universal and Viacom to start a public awareness campaign and working with the American Academy of Pediatrics to ensure doctors regularly measure children's body mass index.

Noting many kids consume up to half of their daily calories at school, the White House also said it is seeking an additional $10 billion over 10 years to improve school meals.

Another part of the initiative would invest $400 million a year into Healthy Food Financing, a public-private plan that would bring grocery stores to underserved areas and get healthier foods into convenience stores.

Let's Move also has gotten commitments from many professional sports organizations to help encourage physical activity among children.

An independent foundation, Partnership for a Healthier America, will help oversee the "nationwide movement that continues long after we're gone," Michelle Obama said.

"Rarely in the history of this country have we encountered a problem of such magnitude and consequence that is so eminently solvable," she said. "So let's move -- let's move to solve it."

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