This past weekend I attended Sisterbration’s Inaugural GRITS (Girls Raised In The South) Summit on Childhood Obesity. The mission of Sisterbration is to educate, empower and enlighten African-American and other women of color with the knowledge, tools and resources necessary to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The GRITS Summit was a one-day conference that addressed the obesity prevention needs of children and youth, with particular emphasis on the unequal burden of overweight and obesity among girls. The conference also showcased regional data on the prevalence of childhood obesity in the Southwest, along with the latest approaches in prevention and control.
Most of the attendees were community health educators, public school staff, nutritionists, dietitians, college professors, students majoring in the health professions, non-profit administrators, and staff from different branches of the government. And then there was Moe, the volunteer running coach/marathoner/author/youth leadership instructor who is also a contributing blogger for Sporty Afros. LOL. I was invited by the founder of Sisterbration, Dr. Kimberly Clay. I kid you not, I have yet to attend an event where I perfectly fit in. But it’s okay. I love being the one with the unique non-categorical job description. It’s a great conversation opener.
Anywho, I enjoyed all of the workshops I attended and especially the keynote speaker. I love learning and one thing I really appreciated about this conference was that each presenter backed their topic of discussion with quantitative and qualitative data. Oops! My inner geek is creeping out again.
The keynote speaker for the conference was Commander James L. Dickens, Region VI Minority Health Consultant for the US Department of Health & Human Services. Most of the data he had pertained to Region VI, which includes Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Here’s some what I call “Wake Up” data he shared at the conference:
- According to data he presented, there are an estimated 12.5 million obese children age 2-19 in Region VI; this amount has tripled since the 1980’s
- Region VI is the fattest region out of the 10 regions that make up the United States of America. (The term fattest region was used in the presentation)
- 1 in 7 low income children are more likely to be obese
- In 2010, an estimated $3,000,000,000 (3 billion) was spent in connection to health care for youth with obesity related medical conditions
Why did this information cut me up on the inside? Because the children are our future. I’m not trying to sound all cliché and Whitney Houton-ish but I have a soft spot for children and them getting adequate information to live prosperous lives. If you are a parent, teacher, or mentor who is trying to eat right, take out the time to educate the youth around you about eating healthy as well. Make healthy eating a family affair. Get the kids involved. Let them come along with you when you buy groceries. Let them look over your shoulder when you’re cooking. There are also a few ways you can encourage your kids to eat healthier (I am not co-signing tip #9).
Okay, I’m getting off my soap box because if I stay on it one more paragraph I’ll be ready to cue the organ and pass a collection plate or send a paypal donation link! Hahaha!
Love, Peace, and Sweat,
Monisha is the author of Runner’s Revelations: How Running Changed My Walk. To learn more about Monisha, her book, and her mission, please visit www.runnersrevelations.com.