President Bush: Fight Childhood Obesity in the Great Outdoors

Washington, D.C. (February 2, 2007) - Yesterday, the President and Mrs. Bush praised the importance of outdoor recreation in combating the epidemic of childhood obesity in the U.S. Meeting at the White House with leaders from the media, entertainment, food and beverage and advertising sectors, Mr. Bush encouraged them to join the federal government’s efforts to combat childhood obesity through their products and advertising.

“One way for this nation to cope with the issue of obesity is to get people outside - whether it be through sports or hiking or conservation. So we’ll encourage them to do that, encourage parents to encourage their children to participate in the great outdoors,” said the President.

In June 2002, President Bush announced the HealthierUS initiative which directed Federal agencies to revise policies, programs and regulations to increase physical activity and nutrition. According to a White House “Fact Sheet on Encouraging Child Fitness” released yesterday, the “Interior Department will promote physical fitness by facilitating access to public lands and National Parks. This will encourage young people and their families to participate in hunting, fishing, hiking, biking and other forms of outdoor recreation.”

These actions show a growing recognition by the Bush Administration that outdoor recreation opportunities on public lands are essential to improving public health. “Putting the spotlight on outdoor recreation, especially on the nation’s public lands, as key to the physical, mental and spiritual health of the next generation of Americans is most welcome,” said Derrick Crandall of the American Recreation Coalition.

More than 10 million (approximately 18%) school-age children in the United States are now considered overweight. The proportion of overweight children has tripled over the last 25 years, and doubled for children ages 6-12.

To read the White House News Release about yesterday's meeting, click here.

For the fact sheet, click here.