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It's Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

By Presidential proclamation and Congressional action, September 2010 has been declared the first Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Of course, for our Let’s Move! team, every month is about solving the problem of childhood obesity, but we will do some special things this month to encourage everyone to take action. Since starting Let’s Move! in February, we’ve been working to share information and raise awareness about the scope of this problem. We’ve heard from many of you that you are ready for less talking and more moving. So here are the steps that we are taking together to make a real difference in September. We need to model best behavior for our kids and encourage them to develop healthy habits to last a lifetime. You can achieve each of these 3 goals with your kids and take action now. Check your BMI You may have heard a lot about BMI (body mass index) over the last several months. BMI is a calculated number based on weight and height, specific to age and gender that helps your doctor or health care provider measure whether a person is underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. It’s not a number that means much by itself, but in the context of children of same age and gender, as well as family history of specific conditions (such as diabetes or heart disease) a health care provider can assess your risk of medical problems related to weight. This September (or at your next doctor’s visit) ask your doctor to measure your child’s BMI and discuss nutrition and physical activity for your family. Try the BMI Calculator here. Commit to earning your Presidential Active Lifestyle Award Join the First Lady and Let’s Move! team as we start working together and working out to earn a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA). To earn your PALA, all you need to do is document your active exercise 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week, for six weeks. We are asking children all across the nation, as they return to school, to go for their PALA. Children need to achieve 60 minutes of active play per day, 5 days a week, for six weeks. This can be a personal, family or team effort. The Let’s Move! team led by our First Lady has signed on. Sign up with your children, your school or your neighbors. Just go to www.fitness.gov or register here to start logging your daily activity. At the end of six weeks, you can receive a certificate of recognition from the President. Better yet, you’ll be on your way to building healthy habits and feeling better with a more active lifestyle. This is a step that each of us can take to model the change that will create healthier living. Turn off your television Let’s Move to limit screen time and choose active entertainment in the month of September. Our kids spend a lot of time in front of screens: televisions, computers, phones. When you add up the hours of media that kids experience in an average day, it’s more than 7 hours of entertainment media in addition to computer learning. This September 19-25 is National Turn Off Your TV week. Take the opportunity to get outside, go for walk, play with friends, and keep moving. Your kids may have so much fun they won’t even miss it! Shale L. Wong, MD, MSPH, Policy Fellow, Office of First Lady Michelle Obama