Sam Kass, White House head chef and senior policy adviser for healthy food initiatives, addressed 19 national faith leaders on May 31 at an unprecedented meeting to bring greater attention to the nationwide childhood obesity epidemic.
Three Presbyterians participated in the meeting, hosted by the Campaign for Healthy Kids and Let’s Move! Faith and Communities: Martha Bettis Gee, associate for child advocacy for the General Assembly Mission Council; Jane Givens of the Presbyterian Health Network, a constituent organization of the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association; and the Rev. Eileen Lindner, chair of the Health Care Task Force of the National Council of Churches.
The meeting’s aim was to identify opportunities for faith groups to increase and promote wellness and healthy lifestyle options in their congregations and states, implement more health and fitness activities, and urge Kass and First Lady Michelle Obama to support the state-level policy change initiative, Targeted Coordinated School Health.
Targeted Coordinated School Health, modeled after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Coordinated School Health, addresses the relationship between health and learning. Through a district-level coordinator, it promotes policies and practices that integrate nutrition education into health and physical education, and nutrition services, and makes physical activity a component of the entire school day through wake-up warm-ups, classroom physical activity breaks, and active recess.
The Campaign for Healthy Kids was created by Save the Children and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to reverse the alarming statistic that nearly one in three children and adolescents are diagnosed as obese or overweight.