Too many kids are overweight and disconnected from real food. But there may be hope on the horizon.
We hear so much about the childhood obesity epidemic that it’s almost become background noise. But listen we must: It’s staggering that two-thirds of U.S. children are overweight or obese, with children of color and those in low-income families disproportionately affected. One in four young adults are too overweight for military service, a legitimate national security concern. To put the cookie on the lowest shelf: We’re failing our children and our future.
And yet … maybe the message is finally getting through. In "Tackling Childhood Obesity: What's Next" (appearing in the June issue as “Slim Chances”), managing editor Jenna Blumenfeld highlights a few hopeful new statistics, as well as people across the country who are creatively and tangibly improving children’s health. “When a whole community gets involved, the collective influence can authentically shift how kids think about and eat food,” she concludes.
I think the operative word is “collective”—we need to work together. One example: FoodCorps, a national nonprofit that recruits and trains emerging leaders to work under the direction of local school-food-improvement groups, à la Peace Corps’ year of service. “There are organizations already working in all 50 states, bringing measurable improvement to school food,” says cofounder Curt Ellis. “We just need to give them boots and help them do more—a troop surge for school food.” Right now FoodCorps receives more applicants than it can place, a great indicator of the next generation’s passion for fixing our broken food systems.
We still have a long way to go, of course. Want to get involved? Partner with your natural products retailer to host cooking classes or store tours for kids, showing them what healthy food looks and tastes like. Get your hands dirty in a school garden. Donate to groups that are making a difference. And share here or on our Facebook page what’s working in your home or neighborhood.