The increased rate of obesity among children has become a major health concern in the US (Ogden, 2012). Statistics show that obesity among children has increased alarmingly in the last three decades. According to Ogden (2012), it is estimated that about a third of children aged below 12 years are either overweight or obese. Obesity has exposed children to the risk of attracting chronic diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, kidney failure, and hypertension, among others. In addition to chronic diseases, obese children are prone to low levels of self-esteem, negative perceptions, and depression (Kraak, Story, & Wartella, 2012). Yanovski and Yanovski (2011) argue that if the epidemic of children obesity is not controlled or prevented, the country will suffer from huge healthcare budgets in the future. Therefore, the government, through the ministry of health, is putting extra effort in controlling children obesity. Many initiatives and health promotion programs have also been established to prevent obesity among children (Yanovski, & Yanovski, 2011).
Let’s Move health program is one of the leading healthcare program established to fight children obesity in US. The initiative was started by the first lady Michelle Obama in 2010 with an aim of reducing obesity among children and promoting a healthy lifestyle among them. The program has partnered with various government and private organizations, parents, schools and healthcare professionals in fighting obesity in children (Dietz, 2015).
Objectives of Let’s Move program
The primary goal of Let’s Move initiative is to reduce the rate of obesity in children. The organization also aims at promoting a healthy lifestyle by ensuring proper eating habits and nutrition in children to reduce the risk of obesity. Other objectives of the organization include:
- Creating healthy beginning for children
- Providing healthy and nutritious food in schools
- Educating parents and caregivers in proper dieting
- Increasing access to affordable healthy food
- Encouraging physical activities in children
Why the Program was Initiated
Let’s Move program was initiated in 2010 by Michelle Obama to help in reducing the escalating rate of obesity among children. By 2010, the rate of obesity among children had reached an epidemic level since it was estimated that one among three children was obese. As the rate of obesity increased, more children were diagnosed with chronic diseases that were previously common among adults only (Yanovski, & Yanovski, 2011). These diseases included heart attacks, stroke, cancer, diabetes, asthma, and kidney failure, among others. The rate of death among children has also increased as a result of heart diseases, due to the problem of overweight. The government also spent much in treating and controlling chronic diseases among children. As a result, the government looked for other ways of controlling obesity among children by partnering with private organizations in the fight against obesity (Pan, et al., 2012).
Let’s Move initiative targets children, parents, caregivers, schools, and communities. The initiative aims at providing useful information to these target groups on how to cut the rate of obesity by encouraging healthy eating and physical exercises (Harrison, 2014). The initiative provides guidelines to children on their eating habits and types of foods they should avoid (Larson, & Story, 2011). The initiatives also encourage children to focus on physical exercises in order to reduce excess fat in their bodies. For parents and caregivers, the initiative focuses on providing information on the types of food that should be given to young children. In schools, the initiative focuses on providing health foods in schools through programs such as the School Breakfast Program and the National School Lunch Program. The program also encourages schools to persuade their students to do physical exercises at least 60 minutes a day. The initiative also focuses on providing affordable, healthy food to the community as well as advocating for physical exercise to reduce the rate of obesity (Dietz, 2015).
Analysis of Strategies, Strength, and Weaknesses
Let’s Move program uses various strategies in order to achieve its objectives. One of the main strategies of the Let’s Move program is educating American citizens on healthy lifestyles. The initiative usually conducts education programs and seminars in schools, churches, healthcare centers and community centers to educate the public on the importance of healthy eating habits and proper nutrition to reduce the risk of obesity. The education programs also aim at educating the public about the need to encourage physical exercises by their children (Langford, et al., 2015).
Another strategy by Let’s Move to achieve its objective is through providing affordable healthy food to schools and the community (Harrison, 2014). For the last four years in which the program has been in operation, it has put a lot of effort in ensuring that schools and communities have access to healthy foods at affordable prices. To achieve this, the initiative offers food to schools and the community at reduced prices. The initiative has also started school programs such as school breakfast programs and national school lunch program, where it offers healthy food to students (Tsai, et al., 2014).
The program is pushing the government to enact laws that promote a healthy lifestyle for the citizens. These laws include putting physical exercise lessons in the school curriculum and controlling the advertisement of sugary and fatty foods, as well as soft drinks. Sugary and fatty foods are the main cause of obesity in children (Go, Mozaffarian, & Roger, 2013).
Strengths of the Program
One of the core strengths of the initiative is the availability of government support. The program was initiated by the first lady, and it therefore gets full support from the government (Campos, 2011). The government provides the program with funding and other necessary resources to carry out its operations. Thus, the program has been able to reach many people in the country. The other advantage of the program is the partnership with various stakeholders. There are several private organizations and private individuals who have joined together to support the program. The partners provide funds and resources to the organization and also help in carrying out education programs. Let’s Move program also has the advantages of several legislations that are encouraging people to adopt a healthy lifestyle by eating organic food and minimize the use of genetically modified foods (Campos, 2011).
Weaknesses of the program
The Let’s Move initiatives have few weaknesses that limit its operations. One of the weaknesses of the program is an increase of genetically modified food in the market. Most of the food products available in the market are produced genetically; the products therefore contain a lot of fats that cause obesity among children, as well as adults. It has become difficult for people to distinguish these foods from the organic foods; thus, many people consume them without knowledge. Thus, the program is facing a difficult time to minimize the use of GMOs. The other weakness of the program is the lack of capacity to increased advertisement and promotional campaigns of sweets and chocolates and beverages in the market. These advertisements are carried out, targeting children who are the main consumers, and they increase chances of obesity in children (Dietz, 2015).
How the Program Could be Evaluated
Evaluation is necessary for every program to be effective. Evaluation helps in understanding the progress of the program toward the realization of its objectives (Bauman, & Nutbeam, 2013). The information collected during program evaluation helps the management to make decisions relating to the program. The evaluation also helps in defining strategies that will help the organization to achieve its goals within the set timeline. In evaluating the Let’s Move program, the goal-based evaluation approach is used. Goal-based evaluation involves analyzing whether the program has achieved its goals within the set time frame. It also helps in determining the status of the program in achieving its objectives. The evaluation also helps in determining whether the program has adequate resources required in achieving its goals. This helps the management in making decisions relating to the program, such as the additional amount of resources required, setting time frame for achieving specific goals, and setting priorities (Bauman, & Nutbeam, 2013).
To evaluate the program, questionnaires and interviews will be used to collect data from the target participants. The evaluation will aim at collecting data about the impact of the program in reducing the rate of obesity among children. The evaluation will be done after every six months.
The increased rate of obesity among children has become a major concern in the US (Ogden, 2012). The government is spending heavily in treating obesity-related diseases among children. Obese children are also suffering from chronic diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes and kidney failure, among others, as well as psychologically due to low levels of self-esteem. As a result, there are several initiatives and health promotional programs that have joined together to fight obesity among children. Let’s Move is one of the program that aims at reducing the rate of diabetes through healthy nutrition and physical exercises. There is clear evidence that the program has been successful for the last four years it has been in operation, and the rate of obesity in the US is decreasing (Batchelder, & Matusitz, 2014).
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