Beaumont receives No. 1 ranking in Let’s Move! initiative medal standings

First Lady Michelle Obama (Photo courtesy of Alan Coleman)

First Lady Michelle Obama started the Let’s Move! campaign in 2010 with a goal of “solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight,” according to the Let’s Move! website.

A recent Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) might suggest that city participation in programs like Let’s Move! has helped lower the obesity rate in children. After decades of rising rates, obesity among low-income preschoolers declined slightly in 19 states and U.S. territories from 2008 through 2011. The August 2013 report found that Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, South Dakota, and the U.S. Virgin Islands saw at least a 1-percentage point decrease in their rate of obesity. Twenty states and Puerto Rico held steady at their current rate. Obesity rates increased slightly in three states.

“Today’s announcement reaffirms my belief that together, we are making a real difference in helping kids across the country get a healthier start to life,” said First Lady Obama in an Aug. 6 CDC press release. “We know how essential it is to set our youngest children on a path towards a lifetime of healthy eating and physical activity, and more than 10,000 childcare programs participating in the Let’s Move! Child Care initiatives are doing vitally important work on this front.”

While Texas was not included in the CDC report, Beaumont is now ranked No. 1 in the nation in the latest medal standings for cities participating in the Let’s Move! initiative, according to Let’s Move Cities, Towns, and Counties website. Beaumont held as press conference Aug. 6 at city hall to celebrate the achievement. HEB, who provided snacks and entertainment for children in attendance, funded healthier food choices at nine schools in BISD.

Beaumont sits atop the rankings on LMCTC’s website with Knox County, Tenn., Meriden, Conn., Norfolk, Va. and others tied for second place.

“Yet, while this announcement reflects important progress, we also know that there is tremendous work still to be done to support healthy futures for all our children,” said Dr. Alan Coleman, Beaumont city councilmember.

According to 2011 obesity stats by the CDC, the South had the highest prevalence of obesity at 29.5 percent, including Texas at 30.4 percent and Mississippi at the highest rate with 34.9. Obesity is defined as an adult having a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater to or equal to 30.0. BMI is calculated by taking a person’s weight in kg and dividing it by the person’s squared height in meters.

With Texas found to be one of the states with the highest obesity ratings by the CDC, Coleman said that it is important for Beaumont and Jefferson County to be able to track its progress in reducing obesity.

“We’re hoping that we can partner with some of the pediatric groups here (in Southeast Texas), and they can help us track data so we can know where we stand,” Coleman said.

There are more than 330 communities enrolled in the Let’s Move! initiative. The efforts of the Public Health Department and the Parks and Recreation Department have been instrumental in Beaumont’s success, a city of Beaumont press release states. The city recently received its fourth gold medal by conducting a nutrition seminar for local childcare facilities. Coleman introduced the initiative at a Jan. 22 Beaumont City Council Meeting and was one of 75 elected officials invited to the White House in July by Michelle Obama for recognition in the national effort.

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