(Ms. Debby, our Child Nutrition Program Manager/ Nutrition Education and Wellness Team Leader here at TLC! is serious about nutrition, educating our kids about healthy eating and about teaching parents and our community about it too. Today is a guest post from Ms. Debby and what she learned at a recent conference here in western North Carolina. Take it away Ms. Debby!)
I recently had the privilege of attending a regional conference on child nutrition and health in Asheville. The theme of the conference was “Communities Working Together” and the idea was to bring together concerned professionals from various disciplines to discuss solutions to the current health problems facing children in our area. What I learned was both frightening and encouraging.
“Frightening” because our area, along with the rest of the country, is facing a true epidemic of obesity that is now affecting our children along with the adult population. These maps, which were referenced repeatedly at the conference, tell the story in a way mere words can’t. Please do take a minute to view them. Along with the rise in obesity has come a rise in type 2 diabetes, hypertension and other “adult” health issues among children. Just prior to the conference, USA Today had published an article that stated that, if current trends continue, by 2050 one third of our population will have developed diabetes, and for the first time in generations, the life expectancy of our children is shorter than that of the current generation of adults. In a bizarre sidenote, many of the professionals there also noted that while obesity was on the rise, so was malnutrition and that it is entirely possible to be both overweight and undernourished at the same time due to poor food choices.
There is much more I could share on why this is so alarming to me, but let me talk to you about why this conference was also so encouraging. The CDC says that if the trend toward obesity is to be reversed, we must address the availability of healthy foods, increase opportunities for physical exercise and create a system that supports health. One of the presenters, Emily Jackson of ASAP, was quoted as putting it this way, “what we all want to do is create a community environment where kids can’t help but grow up healthy.” I feel that that is exactly what we are trying to do here at The Learning Center! and I see evidence that we are being successful. There is, of course, much yet to be done, and there is more need than ever for our TLC! Families to reinforce at home what our students are learning about health here on campus. I encourage you to partner with us in creating a healthy future for our kids.
Couldn’t have said it any better. Thanks Ms. Debby.