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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Good news week for healthy initiatives

Joe Marchilena

It may have been easy for Bart Simpson to say, but it wasn’t for Jimmy Fallon during Thursday’s episode of “The Tonight Show.”

It took Fallon three tries to spit out a joke about advertisers for junk food recycling their slogans in support of increasing healthy food consumption in schools. ...

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It may have been easy for Bart Simpson to say, but it wasn’t for Jimmy Fallon during Thursday’s episode of “The Tonight Show.”

It took Fallon three tries to spit out a joke about advertisers for junk food recycling their slogans in support of increasing healthy food consumption in schools.

“Nobody better lay a finger on my celery stick,” read the alleged new sign marketing healthy food to kids.

But all kidding aside, this was a good news week when it comes to the health of the country’s children.

A report from federal health authorities released Tuesday said that in the last decade, the obesity rate in children ages 2-5 dropped 43 percent, the first major decline reported. The importance of that number can’t be understated, as children who are obese or overweight at that age are five times more likely to be have the same problems as adults.

While its only a small portion of the population – the same report said a third of adults and 17 percent of youths are obese – it’s a start. Assuming that trend continues, over time, obesity rates would drop across the board.

Another piece of good news came also came Tuesday, and was the impetus for Fallon’s late-night joke, as Michelle Obama proposed a ban on advertising of unhealthy foods in public schools.

“Our classrooms should be healthy places where kids are not bombarded with ads for junk food,” Obama said at the announcement. “So hopefully in the grocery market, they will be begging us for items from the produce aisle instead of from the snack aisle.”

As wonderful as that might be for a lot of parents, let’s not hold our breath on kids begging for fruits and vegetables, and settle for them at least agreeing to do so.

While the federal report doesn’t contain a reason as to why the obesity rates have dropped in young children, there are theories. An article in The New York Times suggests a few, such as that children consume fewer calories from sugary beverages than in 1999 and fewer calories overall. There’s also a belief that an increase in the number of women breast-feeding has played some part.

Whatever the reason, it’s good news. Hopefully, it’s a trend that will continue over the next decade.

Joe Marchilena writes a weekly fitness column for Hampshire Hills Sports & Fitness Club. To find out more information about the “90 Day Commit to Get Fit” program, call 673-7123 or email hhinfo@hampshirehills.com.