FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 9, 2010

Contact:
Amy Vogt
703-875-0723
avogt@aasa.org

AASA STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA’S
CAMPAIGN AGAINST CHILDHOOD OBESITY

ARLINGTON, Va. – The American Association of School Administrators, the professional organization for school superintendents and other school system leaders, issued the following statement in support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity:

“AASA applauds First Lady Michelle Obama for taking a stand against childhood obesity. Obesity is a critical issue that is impacting the health and success of our youth, especially in our poorest communities. Tackling this issue will not only improve students’ health, but also their chances for academic success.

“As the First Lady has pointed out, nearly one third of children and adolescents in the United States — some 23 million youth — are overweight or obese. And African-American and Latino children and teens are at greatest risk for obesity.

“Research has shown a link between physical activity and academic success and between a healthy diet and cognitive performance. AASA members understand these relationships and can bear witness that students perform better when they are physically active and think better when they have consumed nutritious food.”

“For more than 30 years, AASA has worked with school leaders on prominent issues that affect children’s health and academic success. In the area of childhood obesity, AASA has supported school system leaders in developing and implementing policies and programs that advance healthy eating and increase physical activity in schools and communities, with a special emphasis on collaborative policy approaches that address childhood obesity among vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by the epidemic. There is much more to do, and we greatly appreciate the First Lady’s attention to this issue.

“We agree with the First Lady that it is going to take the sustained leadership and effort of communities, families and schools to tackle this issue. AASA is committed to supporting the First Lady’s initiative in a number of ways, including:

• Helping the First Lady and U.S. Department of Agriculture to dramatically increase participation in the Healthier U.S. Schools Challenge by at least 2,000 schools over the next two years by increasing awareness of the program among superintendents in rural and suburban school districts.

• Helping the First Lady to identify leading superintendents on this issue who have demonstrated support for healthy school environments. AASA has a long history of working with leading rural, urban and suburban districts and encouraging others to adopt these proactive policies.

• Continuing to highlight promising practices for implementing healthy eating and physical activity policies and programs in schools through the publication of Healthy Learning News. The Spring 2010 issue of this publication will focus on childhood obesity in rural communities, which are disproportionately affected by this issue.

• Helping the First Lady to address the schools’ role in preventing childhood obesity among African-American and Latino students by continuing our work with the National Alliance of Black School Educators and the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents. The intent of this joint effort is to increase the capacity of NABSE and ALAS to provide black and Latino school district leaders with resources, research, policies, strategies and technical assistance to lead obesity prevention efforts.

“In this era of diminishing resources, schools are challenged to both balance their budgets and ensure that children are well nourished, physically active and ready to succeed academically. AASA looks forward to supporting the First Lady’s efforts to find solutions to these challenges, and continuing to engage our members in support of healthy eating and active living in our schools and communities, on behalf of the nation’s children.”

Related AASA Information:

• AASA Educating the Total Child Campaign – http://www.aasa.org/content.aspx?id=118]
• AASA Project on Childhood Obesity: Engaging School Leaders, Partnering for Healthier Communities – http://www.aasa.org/content.aspx?id=212
• Healthy Learning News – Districts making positive program and policy changes in the areas of healthy eating and active living – http://www.aasa.org/uploadedFiles/Publications/_files/HLN_winter09.pdf
• Superintendents Join Top Policy Groups to Create Healthy Communities, Prevent Childhood Obesity – http://www.aasa.org/PressReleases.aspx?id=1538
• Texas School Superintendent Roel Gonzalez To Receive National Healthy Community Leadership Award – http://www.aasa.org/PressReleases.aspx?id=1542
• AASA Partners With Latino and African-American Education Leader Associations To Address Childhood Obesity – http://www.aasa.org/uploadedFiles/Newsroom/_files/062508.pdf
• Healthy Bodies, Well Minds – The School Administrator, January 2008 – http://www.aasa.org/SchoolAdministratorIssue.aspx?id=3798

About AASA
The American Association of School Administrators, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. Through the Educating the Total Child advocacy campaign, AASA members are committed to creating the conditions necessary for all students to become successful, lifelong learners. That includes providing comprehensive nutrition and health programs, access to quality health care, early childhood education and ongoing support for families and communities. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.

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