Obesity is known to increase an individual's risk of heart disease and stroke. Currently more than 35% of U.S. adults (1) and more than 16% of U.S. children are obese (2). Because many factors contribute to these figures, the American Heart Association supports a multi-faceted approach to reducing obesity that involves strategies in the community and at school.
By implementing policies that provide adequate resources and encourage healthy choices, more Americans will live in an environment that supports a heart-healthy lifestyle. To help increase some of these positive influences, the American Heart Association advocates for:
- Increased taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages.
- State funding for Healthy Food Financing Initiatives and Corner Store Initiatives - programs that increase access to affordable healthy foods through retail outlets in underserved communities.
- Shared Use agreements - clarification of liability rules for the use of school-owned recreational facilities outside of the school day to encourage physical activity in the community.
- State funding for safe and clear biking and walking paths to schools within local communities.
- Availability of healthy foods and beverages in state buildings and properties for state employees and visitors.
With the amount of time our youth spend at school, school districts have an opportunity to significantly impact a student's health. Increasing physical education and opportunities to make healthy choices in a student's school day can help reverse the trend of obesity. To achieve better standards in our schools, the American Heart Association advocates for:
- Inclusion of physical education for 150 minutes per week in elementary school and 225 minutes per week in middle school.
- Physical education as a high school graduation requirement.
- Elimination of waivers and substitutions for physical education credits.
- Policies for schools that are consistent with the beverage and snack guidelines in the USDA Interim Final Rule Nutrition Standards for snack foods and beverages sold in schools.
Voices for Healthy Kids
Voices for Healthy Kids®, a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and American Heart Association (AHA) works to help all young people eat healthier foods and be more active. Nearly 1 in 3 kids and teens are overweight or obese. By engaging, organizing and mobilizing people in communities across the United States, Voices for Healthy Kids will make the healthy choice the easy choice in the places where children live, learn and play. For more information, visit www.voicesforhealthykids.org.
1 - Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Flegal KM. Prevalence of Obesity in the United States, 2009-2010. NCHS data brief, no 82. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, 2012.
2 - Go AS, Mozaffarian D, Roger VL et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics -- 2014 Update: A Report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2014;129:e28–e292