In todays safe family report, It is a growing problem across America... Obesity.
And it is hitting our nations children hard.
They'd be the apple of any parent's eye. But just a few years ago, these kids in Somerville, Massachusetts, outside Boston, were at the leading edge of the nation's obesity epidemic.
"The data showed that 40-percent of our students were obese, and that was higher than the national average."
Enter Tufts University Nutrition Professor Christina Economos... She cooked up a plan.
"It's a complex problem, and we need to address it with complex solutions."
Seven years ago, Professor Economos got a grant from the Centers for Disease Control (and Prevention) to try a new approach. Her target: kids in the first to third grades. Her blueprint, "Shape Up Somerville," called for attacks on every front - beginning in the school cafeteria.
"If we get 'em in the lunch line, there's a good possibility they're gonna have fresh fruit, vegetables and milk."
"Do any of the kids ever come to you and say, "Can we have French fries...one day?
"Every day? But what-- what do you tell 'em? What do you say to them?"
"So we do. We put it on once a week as a treat / We balance the menu. But we also tell them, sure, you can have French fries occasionally, but we want you to try these other things. And they eat it."
"Look at you, you have a lot of fruit on your plate. / You have more fruit on your plate than anything else."
"I have four oranges and two watermelons."
"Tell me this: would you rather this or would you rather have McDonalds and French fries?"
"Really? Why is that"
"Because it tastes good."
Yes… healthy foods at school help. But research shows that school programs BY THEMSELVES can't prevent obesity. Sadly, what happens in school… STAYS in school:
"Child nutrition programs or obesity prevention program that only address school lunch and disregard all other environments that a child moves through during the course of a day will only go so far."
That's why Professor Economos what you COULD call a CITY-WIDE "food fight." And Mayor Curtatone made it about more than just food.
"In the last five years, we've either built or designed or in the process of constructing 25 new parks like this, or community gardens, or dynamic and very flexible open spaces, or ball fields and recreational facilities."
Somerville is giving itself a facelift:
--More exercise paths….
--Restaurants that offer low fat menu options…
--And schools are now assigning homework -- to PARENTS: healthy eating tips… served up in four languages.
So these days, there's good news from Somerville. With the town on a diet, kids were found to be gaining less weight - which means fewer overweight children today… and fewer obese ADULTS down the road.