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We Can! Program Takes Aim at Childhood Obesity
Date:11/29/2007

The national partnership wants to create a healthier America

THURSDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Association of Children's Museums are teaming up on a program to combat the obesity epidemic among America's children.

The program -- called We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children's Activity and Nutrition) -- was introduced Thursday in Boston, Las Vegas and Pittsburgh, which have been designated as We Can! cities.

Other We Can! communities include Armstrong County, Pa.; Carson City, Nev.; Gary, Ind.; South Bend, Ind.; and Roswell, Ga.

"I am really confident that this partnership among the federal government, the We Can! program, the Association of Children's Museums and civic organizations is ultimately going to lead to healthier children in the United States, healthier families and better health-care outcomes for everybody," acting U.S. Surgeon General Rear Admiral Dr. Steven K. Galson said during an afternoon teleconference.

Dr. Elias Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health, said childhood obesity has reached "crisis" proportions.

"We are facing a crisis, and we must find ways to change the tide that is facing us and affecting our children," Zerhouni said during the teleconference.

There are more than 12.5 million overweight children and teens in the United States. Galson said obesity is a big contributor to such childhood health problems as high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and asthma.

"Chronic diseases cause seven out of 10 deaths," Galson said. "And the costs are staggering."

Galson noted that portion sizes have increased while life in America has become more sedentary. "Our kids are growing up with unhealthy lifestyles, the consequences of which could be with them for the rest of their lives," he said.

"Reversing this epidemic does not have one answer," he added. "It's going to take a concerted a
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