First Lady Michelle Obama, Governor Lincoln Chafee, and Director of Health Michael Fine, M.D. have all reached out to the leadership in Rhode Island's cities and towns calling on them to join Let's Move! Cities, Towns, and Counties.
Let's Move! is a national campaign to address the childhood obesity epidemic by engaging local leaders in improving the health of people of their communities. Obama, Chafee, and Fine aim to make Rhode Island the country's first Let's Move! state by getting the leadership in every city and town to enroll.
"Everyone has a role to play to increase opportunities for healthy living and to reduce childhood obesity," Obama and Chafee wrote in a joint letter. "Your involvement in building healthy communities will help ensure a healthy future for children."
While some other states have seen declines in the prevalence of childhood obesity, Rhode Island has not. A quarter of Rhode Island adolescents and sixteen percent of Rhode Island kindergarteners are overweight or obese, and are at increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
"Too many children develop lifelong chronic conditions as a result of obesity that could have been prevented," said Dr. Fine. "To create environments in which children can thrive we need to address obesity in our schools and communities through education and policy change. Rhode Island has the chance to be a leader on this issue and become the country's first Let's Move! state."
Through Let's Move! Cities, Towns, and Counties, communities have the opportunity to earn gold, silver, and bronze medals and national recognition by accomplishing five key goals: helping kids get a healthier start; displaying nutrition information in all municipal buildings where food is sold; providing healthy foods in schools; implementing healthy and sustainable food service guidelines; and increasing opportunities for physical activity.
Over 400 elected officials from across the U.S. have already joined Let's Move! Cities, Towns, and Counties, but no state has had all their municipalities join the effort. So far, Providence, Pawtucket, and Warwick have enrolled.
The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the National League of Cities will work with each interested community to meet the goals of Let's Move! Cities, Towns, and Counties.