Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ campaign has triggered a revolution among preschoolers and their families. *MCT photo
Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ campaign has triggered a revolution among preschoolers and their families. *MCT photo

Last month, I told you that St George’s Preparatory school had reported a decline in obesity rates after introducing a water only policy. 

In the United States, a similar trend has been noted in preschoolers. 

This downward trend in obesity rates prompted the Centers for Disease Control to probe deeper and to determine what is causing this welcomed change.

They found that preschoolers are drinking more water and less sugary drinks. 

They also found these children were consuming fewer calories than before and parents were more conscious of buying lower-calorie foods.

The US federally-funded Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children is now subsidizing whole fruits and vegetables, rather than fruit juice, cheese and eggs.

In addition, Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign has triggered a revolution among preschoolers and their families, encouraging more physical activity. 

Mrs Obama has even managed to coerce museums, zoos and science centres into offering healthy options. 

Many of the young visitors to these institutions are now reaching for an apple, orange or carrot sticks instead of bags of potato chips and chocolate bars. More children are asking for water instead of sugary drinks.

Many US states are now advocating that restaurants prominently display the calorie information on their menus. 

This combined approach of healthy eating and increased physical activity is beginning to pay off in the younger child. 

The next step is for these good health behaviours to percolate through middle and senior schools.  

In addition, mothers are being encouraged to breastfeed. 

Breastfed infants have a much better chance of maintaining a healthy weight throughout childhood because of the head start they received as babies, compared to those who were formula-fed.

It is a campaign worth fighting. 

We need our influential leaders in Bermuda to follow the example set by Mrs Obama. 

We can all think of areas we could target. 

What if baskets of apples and oranges were at the checkout counters at grocery stores instead of chocolate bars and sugary fruit treats? 

What if vendors at Cup Match sold fresh fruit and vegetable snacks? 

School shops should be encouraged to sell fruit and vegetables instead of bags of chips and candy.

Mrs Obama is making healthy cool. It is cool. Ever meet a sixty-year-old man or woman who is fit and healthy? 

They are enjoying life. Ever meet a sixty-year-old man or woman who is overweight, does not exercise, has high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes? 

They are often tired and feel terrible most of the time. 

It’s never too late to make changes. 

Everyone should try and do at least thirty minutes of physical activity every day. Making changes to your diet can be done gradually. Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Replace white bread with whole wheat. Eat fresh fruit instead of drinking juice. 

Don’t let yourself get hungry — it is much harder to say no to junk food if you are really hungry. Keep an apple or orange handy. With some awareness and planning, we all have the power to feel better and enjoy life for a long time. 

Debbie Jones is the diabetes nurse educator for the Bermuda Hospitals Board.