One of every three children in the United States is overweight or obese, conditions that place them at greater risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Obesity rates have tripled in the past 30 years. To address this childhood epidemic, First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Let's Move! campaign in February 2010, and President Barack Obama established the Task Force on Childhood Obesity. On May 11, 2010, the task force released its action plan, which sets the goal of returning to a childhood obesity rate of 5 percent by 2030—the rate before childhood obesity first began rising dramatically in the late 1970s. The report reflects input from 12 federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as 2,500 submissions from parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, and others. It includes 70 recommendations for public and private sector action, as well as concrete metrics and benchmarks to measure progress.
OJJDP staff participated on the task force, contributing information to the report on nutrition and physical education in juvenile justice settings, and crime prevention programs that foster public safety and enhance the ability of children and families to enjoy outdoor recreational activities in their communities. Of particular note to the juvenile justice community is the following report recommendation:
Recommendation 3.17: Promote healthy behaviors in juvenile correctional and related facilities. States and localities should be encouraged to ensure that juvenile justice facilities use nutrition programs available to them, such as USDA's [the U.S. Department of Agriculture] school meal programs. Federal, state, and non-governmental organizations should collaborate to develop evidence-based programs and standards for health promotion and disease prevention services, including nutrition counseling, meal services, and recreational programs that meet the needs and circumstances of juvenile justice populations. Related programs such as organic fruit and vegetable gardening, farming, and culinary arts initiatives in juvenile justice facilities can potentially promote health, education, workforce development, and positive youth development.
In addition, the report poses key questions for future research:
For more information on the Lets Move! initiative, go to its Web site. To learn more about the juvenile justice components of the action plan, please contact OJJDP Senior Juvenile Justice Policy and Legal Advisor, Kathi Grasso.