Protecting the health and wellbeing of our children is critical to the future of Arizona. September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Arizona ranks 15th in the nation in childhood obesity with almost 18% of Arizona children (10 to 17) being obese. Obesity puts our children at early risk for conditions we normally associate with adulthood – Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even stroke.
Obesity has other consequences that can hinder these kids academically and socially. This September we have an opportunity to build awareness about the issue across several Arizona cities, communities and organizations. Our strategic plan identifies “Promoting Nutrition and Physical Activity to Reduce Obesity” as one a winnable battle. We have started several programs to help achieve that – things like integrating physical activity into our everyday lives, making healthy foods available everywhere, activating employers and healthcare providers, strengthening schools and preschools as the heart of health, and marketing what matters for a healthy life.
Adults have an opportunity to help young people get a healthy start in life. We work hard to protect our children from danger – if we think of obesity as a threat like a drug dealer, we can easily imagine our reaction. We have the power to change the future – we can remove the threat by removing obstacles to healthy living and creating more opportunities to be healthy. My counterpart at the Department of Economic Security, Director Clarence Carter, speaks about the mission we need to take on to change the course for our children in his blog.
We have to work together to change the course of obesity in our state. Our future depends on it.