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Live Blog: Washington Post Live’s 2013 Childhood Obesity Summit

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September 20, 2013

Nearly one in three American children are overweight or obese. But after decades of rising rates, we may be turning a corner on the health crisis. This 2013 Washington Post conference will highlight a continued sense of urgency to ease the epidemic as experts across fields gather to discuss strategies resulting in healthier children. Watch this page for updates from our live stream.

  • Meena Ganesan
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“That’s the take-home message to kids,” says Olympian and President’s Fitness Council member Michelle Kwan. “Life isn’t only smooth sailing. You have to keep it simple.”

Thank you live stream viewers for joining us at Washington Post Live’s 2013 Childhood Obesity Summit. We’ll have video clips of the program online shortly.

  • Meena Ganesan
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Q: Is getting married good for your waist line or bad for your waist line?

“It had an affect on my husband. He lost 20 pounds. I’ve always cooked. I live near a grocery store. His eating habits have changed drastically.”

Q: As athlete, now as a diplomat on the President’s Fitness Council, how do you see the childhood obesity crisis?

“I think it’s astounding when you see 1 in 3 children are obese in the United States. I think we have to encourage parents and teachers to get moving. This morning, this afternoon you talked to Hunter. His story is very powerful. Athletes’ stories are very power. When I trained for the Olympics, I trained many, many hours. Morning, afternoon, evening. I ate healthy. I slept. I felt rich.”

“It takes six weeks to create a habit, a good habit or a bad habit,” Kwan notes about the President’s Fitness Challenge — a program encouraging children to exercise 60 minutes five times a week.

Q: How do athletes transition after training?

“From the moment I woke up, I thought about competing at the Olympics.” Kwan says that perseverance translates outside of sports into real life.

Q: When you were a kid, did you have any bad eating habits?

“I wasn’t born eating kale, I ate a lot of candy when I was competing. But I wasn’t performing well.”

  • Meena Ganesan
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Figure skater Michelle Kwan is a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition and has won five world figure skating titles, nine national titles and two Olympic medals.

In 2010, President Obama appointed her to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition — a group that advises the president on ways to engage and educate Americans to lead active, healthy lifestyles.

  • Meena Ganesan
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Our next panel on the live stream take us to the intersection of music and health education:

Shawn Ullman is the co-founder and CEO of Feel Rich, Inc., the current leading multicultural health and wellness media company. Quincy D. Jones III, Ullman’s co-founder, has recorded and remixed tracks for Prince, Tupac, Ice Cube, L.L. Cool J. and Lionel Ritchie, among others.

Ullman and Jones say the work they do, producing music videos on health education, creates for a level of consciousness of the obesity crisis in the music and rap industry.

‘We take these statistics, a personal story about heart disease, and put a spin on it,” Ullman said. “Health, the new status symbol of wealth.”

  • Meena Ganesan
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On the live stream now:

Hunter Willis, 17, lost 100 pounds. ”For me, it was a lack of family structure,” he says about why he was overweight.

  • Meena Ganesan
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We’ve had a great morning and will be back from lunch in a few minutes.

Who or what has most impacted your view of food?

Join our conversation on Twitter with #childhoodobesity.

  • Meena Ganesan
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“I try to change a lot of habits [in my home],” says Kaseir Archie, 16, a member of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Youth Advisory Board. “Something you find in a lot of homes, the ramen noodles, and they’re not really healthy at all. I tell [my mom], ‘you can look at other options.”

  • Meena Ganesan
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In response to Thursday’s House vote that would cut roughly $39 billion in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps — over the next decade, Mayor Nutter says:

“It’s a disgrace. It’s decimating to the folks who don’t have. We’ll literally have less food. Retailers will be affected . . . Farmers, in Philadelphia are going to be hurt. It’s mean spirited. We’ll still ship millions of food products around the world … while children [here] will go to sleep hungry.”

  • Meena Ganesan
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“[In Philadelphia] The majority of the calories kids were eating were coming from corner stores,” recounts Yael Lehmann of The Food Trust, “So we thought, ‘why don’t we go door to door to talk to corner store operators.’” Their response, according to Lehmann, “As long as we’re not losing money, I’m open to trying it.”

On this issue, “What we’ve said is everyone has a role to play. If we make Philadelphia a safer, healthier city . . . with more bike lines, more people will want to live here,” says Mayor Nutter.

  • Meena Ganesan
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We’re back discussing efforts to curbing the childhood obesity crisis in metropolitan cities like Philadelphia.

On our live stream now: Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia health commissioner Donald Schwarz, Yael Lehmann of The Food Trust and Kaseir Archie of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Youth Advisory Board.

How can we have great healthcare, but face so many health challenges? It’s about nutrition & activity, says Mayor Nutter.

  • Meena Ganesan
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Live stream viewers, we’re taking a quick dance break with M.C Hammer’s choreographer Tiffany Patterson. We’ll be back soon.

  • Meena Ganesan
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On our live stream now, we’re discussing strategies for a healthier rural America:

Mayor Jackie Sergent of Oxford, N.C. — the health promotion coordinator and health education supervisor for the Granville Vance District Health Department, Lisa Macon Harrison – the local health director in North Carolina’s Granville and Vance Counties, and Dr. Amelie Ramirez — director of Salud America! and the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

When Harrison gets asked to speak at fairs and conferences, she says her response goes like this: “Health fairs are fine. What are you going to do afterward to promote good health?”

“Build it and they will come,” says Sergent on Vance county’s push to build more walking and biking paths promoting healthy activity.

  • Meena Ganesan
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“This is big,” says Sam Kass of the White House, referring to new USDA regulations on snacks and a la carte menu items in schools. “The question is how do we instill and inspire our kids.”

  • Meena Ganesan
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“What we found is that we can be a catalyst to drive more of this innovation,” says Wal-Mart food and agriculture director Tres Bailey on the childhood obesity health crisis.

The next step? “Change the conversation from sickness and disease to wellness and prevention,” says former Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin.

“I think the point about being positive is really critical, and I think the point about starting early is important,” says the White House’s Sam Kass.

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