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Pioneer Editorial: Good food, exercise a good start

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opinion Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
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Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

In February, first lady Michelle Obama launched the "Let's Move!" campaign to solve the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation. This week, the task force she formed has made some recommendations that form a good first step in hopefully turning the tide of our societal shift toward obesity.

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The action plan defines solving the problem of childhood obesity in a generation as returning to a childhood obesity rate of just 5 percent by 2030, which was the rate before childhood obesity first began to rise in the late 1970s. The task force's report outlines a series of 70 specific recommendations, many of which can begin right away.

Major areas include:

E Getting children a healthy start on life with good prenatal care for their parents and nutritious food along with opportunity for young children to be physically active.

E Empowering parents and caregivers with simpler, more actionable messages about nutritional choices.

E Providing healthy food in schools, including improvements in federally supported school lunches and breakfasts.

E Improving access to healthy, affordable food by eliminating "food deserts" in urban and rural America and lowering the relative prices of healthier foods.

E Getting children more physically active through quality physical education, recess and other opportunities in and after school.

Says Ms. Obama: "For the first time, the nation will have goals, benchmarks, and measureable outcomes that will help us tackle the childhood obesity epidemic one child, one family, and one community at a time. We want to marshal every resource - public and private sector, mayors and governors, parents and educators, business owners and health care providers, coaches and athletes -- to ensure that we are providing each and every child the happy, healthy future they deserve."

The plan is a good start, but it is a plan that must be embraced and implemented. Other programs, such as U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar's plan to create safe bike and hike routes to schools, need to be put in place.

Good food and plenty of exercise may sound trite, but it worked for past generations and is a plan we must embrace for the future.

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