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Youth Fighting Fat (Part One): Growing A Healthy Community

Part 1 of a three-part series by Talia Whyte

 

Obesity has become a very big issue of concern nationwide in recent months. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, well over half of Americans are either considered overweight or obese. The problem came to a crossroads last year when the CDC released a report, showing that Americans spend approximately $147 billion on obesity related health care costs.

Obesity is especially a problem among America’s youth. According to a book I read recently on childhood obesity called Super Sized Kids, only four percent of American children were considered obese in 1960. Today that number has skyrocketed to 15 percent and is almost triple that number in certain minority groups. This is the first generation of youth in American history whose life expectancy may actually decrease.

In addition to first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative, there are many efforts happening locally to address the epidemic. The city of Boston received over $12 million in stimulus money to specifically look at obesity among its residents. The money will not only be used to fund more community gardens and farmers’ markets, but to also look at ways to increase physical activity by providing more bicycles to low income residents and increasing bike paths around the city.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited the Food Project farm last month, where she got to see firsthand youth participating in creating healthier lifestyles. One of the youth workers I spoke for this video said that the experience of working on the farm was one of the most rewarding opportunities she has had so far in her young life.