Saturday, April 30, 2011

Childhood obesity conference

Fionnuala Quinn and Rick Holt

FABB attended the a conference on childhood obesity at GMU on Friday. Let's Move The Needle on Childhood Obesity was a gathering of educators, government officials, and advocates to discuss ways to reduce childhood obesity. In Fairfax County, 23% of children 2-5 years old are overweight. Senator George Barker noted that for the first time every it's project that children today will have a shorter lifespan than their parents. He compared combating obesity to the fight against lung cancer and smoking. Government does have a role and can have a significant impact in fighting the epidemic, through the use of warning labels, public service announcements, and taxes.

We met many people who were interested in trying to get more kids to walk and bike to school and for short trips in their neighborhoods. They need better bike education and they need better facilities. The Safe Routes to School program is a comprehensive way to address both issues and it was mentioned many times during the conference. It will take time to transform our car-dependent communities into walkable/bikeable areas, but it's possible and we need to start now.

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