Michelle Obama urges San Diegans to Live Healthy in her visit to City Heights

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Image by ItzaFineDay via Flickr Michelle Obama stopped at the City Heights New Roots Community Farm here in San Diego last Thursday to promote the Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign to end childhood obesity in the United States.

The First Lady addressed a crowd of 250 farmers, volunteers, and media about her campaign and its involvement in The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative, a 10-year program focused on encouraging healthier lifestyles for children.

The $1 billion endowment, which is partnered with the “Let’s Move!” campaign, will be aimed at 14 communities across the state. Planning grants were given in June 2009, and grants to begin building these changes will be given later this year. The Building Healthy Communities program is focusing on creating healthy changes in the lives of children by creating better access to healthy food and safe places to exercise. Changes include walking trails, more community gardens, and cleanup of local parks. City Heights was targeted by the endowment program because of its location in the city and limited access to nutritious foods.

Located on 54th Street and Chollas Parkway, the 2.3 acre gardens provides refugees and immigrants with access to fresh and affordable food in their own neighborhood. The First Lady lauded their project for encouraging healthier lifestyles. Volunteers are hoping that many other similar communities will soon follow their example.

City Heights is labeled as a “food desert,” where there is limited access to nutritious foods. In the San Diego area, there are more than 4 fast food restaurants for every grocery store. According to the Food Environment Atlas, there are 108,472 low-income households in San Diego located more than a mile away from a grocery store.

Research has shown that the current generation of children has developed more and more health problems associated with weight gain, exacerbated by lack of physical activity and hours in front of TV screens. With an active approach at encouraging changes in these lifestyles, completely preventable weight-related health issues could be avoided.

First Lady Michelle Obama’s goal is to “to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation.” While the goal is quite ambitious, she has already begun by targeting changes at the most basic levels; family, school, and community. She is focused on tackling the problem of unhealthy school lunches and giving support to financially-strapped parents, but only the future will tell the program’s real success in changing the daily lifestyles of families.

*Photo from ItzaFineDay via Flickr

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