A Letter from the President

November 18, 2011

Yesterday I learned the U.S. Congress has blocked the U.S. Department of Agriculture's efforts to improve school meals. Thanks to lobbying by the food industry, pizza and French fries will remain the centerpiece of many school lunches for millions of children in America. I have nothing against such foods on an occasional basis. But not as every day fare as they are in thousands of U.S. schools with fast food franchises.

We now know that more than 12 million U.S. children are obese (this is defined as the 95th percentile — or higher — on the pediatric BMI growth curves) and of those children, an estimated 2 million are SEVERELY obese. Here is the picture of severe obesity painted by a leading pediatrician in Boston:

Last week, I met with the G. family in the…clinic at my hospital. One of the parents was overweight, and the other was obese. The five children were more severely obese and had numerous weight-related complications — one had evidence of fatty liver, one had high blood pressure, two had gastroesophageal reflux, two had orthopedic problems, three had marked insulin resistance, four had dyslipidemia, and all had emotional problems related to their weight. — Dr. David Ludwig, New England Journal of Medicine, Dec. 6, 2007

Fixing school meals will not solve childhood obesity, but it is one step in the right direction. The powerful food industry has been lobbying against any legislative efforts that will hamper their ability to market directly to kids. To them, kids are fair game.

Now kids are getting ill with obesity-related problems such as diabetes (type 2 diabetes — which is far and away the most common type of diabetes and is the type related to obesity), high cholesterol and sleep apnea. These diseases were unheard of in children 25 years ago. Think about it. Put a stop to marketing to children. People will look back on this period in our history and say, “What were they thinking?”

Barbara J. Moore, PhD
President and CEO
Shape Up America!™

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