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National Nutrition Month

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Margo Kerrigan, M.P.H., Area Director
Indian Health Service California Area Office

March is National Nutrition Month© and Eat Right With Color is the theme this year. This annual campaign focuses on the importance of making smart food choices, developing good eating habits and being physically active. The theme encourages us to include on our plates a colorful variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins. This supports continued increased interest of Americans to lead more healthful lifestyles and improve their diets.1 Yet despite this, childhood obesity in America is now a national health crisis. It is disproportionally impacting AI/AN children. One study among four year-olds found that obesity was more than two times more common in AI/AN (31%) than among white (16%) or Asian (13%) children.2 The prevalence and risk of type 2 diabetes among AI/AN further demonstrate a need to take action.3 Helping bring a focus to this crisis, is the Let's Move! in Indian County initiative. It aims to end childhood obesity amongst Native youth within a generation. As part of the national Let's Move! initiative it will combine comprehensive strategies with common sense approaches to help children get on the path to a healthy future. It will give parents helpful information and nurture environments that support healthy choices.

Let's Move! in Indian Country has set four main goals.

  1. Creating a Healthy Start on Life: By promoting breastfeeding; one proven strategy for reducing the risk of childhood obesity.
  2. Developing Healthy Schools: Because the school environment can have a strong impact on behavior, health and well-being of children.
  3. Increasing Physical Activity: By promoting regular physical activity five days a week.
  4. Fostering Healthy, Comprehensive Food Systems Policies: By recommending that communities establish food policy councils, which help stakeholders come together to tackle the problem of improving access to affordable, healthy foods.

Healthy lifestyles and healthy food choices are part of tradition among AI/AN people. Many today continue to lead by example, and more are working to renew healthy traditions and lifestyles. The Let's Move! in Indian Country will build upon many efforts, that support healthier lifestyles, already taking place in Native communities. One example is the national Just Move It campaign, to get 1 million AI/AN moving! The California Area sponsors annually the Just Move It - California Challenge. It partner with Tribal and Urban healthcare organizations to promote what works at the local level and encourages the sharing of success stories on the national Just Move It website. The number of Just Move It partners in the state continues to grow, from twenty partners in 2005 to sixty nine in early 2011.

Helpful Links:
American Dietetic Association, National Nutrition Month©:

1http://www.eatright.org/Media/content.aspx?id=6442462268 Exit Disclaimer – You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov
 Exit Disclaimer – You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov
http://www.nihb.org/public_health/obesity_prevention_youth.php Exit Disclaimer – You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov


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