It’s not every day you get the opportunity to call the White House but yesterday I got to do just that! Sam Kass, Executive Director of Let’s Move! and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy, hosted a call to discuss the 4th Anniversary of the program.
One of the First Lady’s longest advisors, Sam started out as an Assistant Chef in the White House Kitchen and also helped create the first major vegetable garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden! In his current role, he leads the First Lady’s mission to help America raise a healthier generation of children and help them live the long, healthy lives they deserve.
Sam kicked off the call by giving a quick recap of the last few years and shared a few exciting updates:
- Obesity rates among children 2 to 5 years old have dropped 43% in recent years.
- 90% of schools have met the new school lunch standards.
- New restrictions have been set prohibiting the advertisement of junk foods and drinks inside schools (such as on score boards or on drink cups.) As Sam stated on our call, “If you can’t sell it in our schools then you can’t market it there. Now that our vending machines, snack bars and school lunch lines require healthy foods we must only promote healthy foods elsewhere.”
Sam also made the point that the hours of 3pm – 6pm in a child’s day is the most vital time frame with regards to health and nutrition. This is the time when bad habits form. For example, if a kid isn’t involved in sports, they often go home, grab chips or a soda and veg in front of the television. As a result, they aren’t hungry for a healthy dinner because they ate too much junk food after school. 3pm to 6pm. Just three hours can truly shape the future of a child’s life.
As someone who struggled with childhood obesity, this statement really hit home. Despite my love of dance and softball, I ended up not able to participate because I either wasn’t athletic enough to make the team or the costumes were too tight for me to wear on stage without embarrassment. I can only hope that my children will never have to feel the pain and disappointment that comes from missing out on life due to size.
Speaking of size, the First Lady has made it very clear that Let’s Move! has nothing to do with looks or appearance. It is simply a matter of health. I have said from the beginning that being a size 2 was never a weight loss motivator for me. My goal is to lead a healthy, active lifestyle so that I am around to see my grand children, plain and simple.
Wondering what you can do now to shape tomorrow? Sam gave us 4 easy tips for helping ensure the our kids get the best nutrition and live long, healthy lives:
- Youngest Parents: If possible, breast feed your baby. Sam said that the simple act of breastfeeding your newborn is one of the best things you can do to ensure proper nutrition from a very early age. (Of course, I was happy to hear this since I’m currently nursing my 3 month old.)
- Parents of Older Children: Focus on filling their plate half way with fruits and vegetables. For a handy visual, be sure to check out ChooseMyPlate.gov
- Don’t Drink Your Calories: Water is the best refreshment for your children, bottom line. The next best bet is low fat dairy. Try to limit sugary drinks like soda and juice as much as possible.
- 60 Minutes of Active Play Every Day: I love this because the emphasis is on PLAY! It’s not about getting inside the workout room. When kids enjoy being active they learn to relish exercise as a fun activity that they look forward too, not something they dread.
At the end of the call, Sam opened it up to Q&A and I was lucky enough to be chosen to ask a question. Long story short, I asked what we were doing to help people learn how to cook. We are doing a great job of encouraging people to eat more fruits and vegetables, grow gardens and shop at farm stands but if people don’t know how to cook, they will become frustrated and end up at the drive-thru. So often I hear of people buying take out because they think it’s cheaper than cooking at home or they buy processed foods because they think it’s easier to make a meal out of a box than from scratch.
While Sam didn’t have a definitive answer, he wholeheartedly agreed that this is an issue that needs to be addressed. Sam said, “Cooking is our most effective weapon for putting healthy meals out that are also more affordable.” I couldn’t agree more and I was thrilled to hear that Sam agreed and look forward to seeing the next chapter of Let’s Move! unfold.
And with that…I’m off to the gym. I have a group exercise class that I look forward to every week!
Let’s Move, friends!