OLYMPIA, Wash.—Washington voters passed Initiative 1634, which removes local control and eliminates the ability for local governments to pass sugary drink taxes to benefit their communities. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network opposed this initiative.
Combating Childhood Obesity Key to Cancer Prevention
Washington, D.C. -- February 9, 2010 -- The American Cancer Society and its advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), support First Lady Michelle Obama’s efforts to improve the health of our nation’s children by combating childhood obesity.
The American Cancer Society sent a letter to the White House in support of the First Lady’s important new initiative, “Let’s Move.”
“Society scientists estimate that approximately 187,000 cancer deaths in 2009 were attributed to poor nutrition, physical inactivity, and obesity,” wrote John R. Seffrin, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, and Otis W. Brawley, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society. “Only tobacco use is a greater cause of cancer and a greater threat to America’s health in general. Current trends in obesity threaten to reverse America’s nearly 20-year decline in cancer death rates. Therefore, improving nutrition and physical activity among our nation’s youth is necessary to reducing obesity and preventing cancer.”
Approximately one-third of all cancer deaths in the U.S. are due to poor nutrition, physical inactivity and excess weight. In the past 20 years, the number of obese adults in the U.S. has doubled and the number of overweight children has tripled. We know that cancers due to poor nutrition, physical activity and excess weight could be prevented.
The letter follows:
Statement of the American Cancer Society
Supporting Efforts to Combat Childhood Obesity
February 5, 2010
The American Cancer Society commends First Lady Michelle Obama for launching a nationwide initiative to improve the health of our children through promoting healthier diets and more physically active lifestyles.
Obesity, which results from poor diet and physical inactivity, is a significant and growing American problem that begins in childhood. In the early 1970s, 12 percent of American men and 17 percent of American women were obese. By 2008, 32 percent of men and 36 percent of women were obese. Among American children ages 6 to 11 years, 4 percent were obese in the early 1970s and more than 17 percent of children are obese today. About half of those who are overweight as children will remain overweight in adulthood, and 70% of those who are overweight by adolescence will remain overweight as adults. These trends signal an urgent need to target obesity prevention initiatives toward children.
Obesity is associated with a number of cancers, among them colorectal, pancreas, breast and prostate cancer. American Cancer Society research clearly shows that obesity correlates with and causes cancer. Society scientists estimate that approximately 187,000 cancer deaths in 2009 were attributed to poor nutrition, physical inactivity, and obesity. Only tobacco use is a greater cause of cancer and a greater threat to America’s health in general. Current trends in obesity threaten to reverse America’s nearly 20-year decline in cancer death rates. Therefore, improving nutrition and physical activity among our nation’s youth is necessary to reducing obesity and preventing cancer.
The Society is actively engaged in addressing this alarming trend on several fronts:
Continuing research - The American Cancer Society is currently investing nearly $23 million in research addressing nutrition and physical activity as they relate to obesity and cancer. Experts on diet and cancer have estimated that dietary changes might reduce the risk of fatal cancers by about one-third. This translates to an opportunity to save more than 100,000 lives each year. The Society will continue funding a wide range of nutrition- and physical activity-related research to add to the existing body of knowledge about the impact of lifestyle on disease, as well as effective strategies to facilitate healthier living.
Working within systems - Building the capacity of our nation’s school systems to address comprehensive school health education is critical to helping our children live healthier lives. The American Cancer Society makes health education an ongoing priority by building the capacity of school systems to implement the National Health Education Standards (NHES), which provide guidance on what children and youth should know about health and be able to do by certain grade ranges. The Society also supports training and implementation of the NHES in all states so that education around nutrition and physical activity increase in quality and quantity; and, we support the professional development of school health coordinators at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary level to build their ability to improve classroom health education on healthy eating and increased physical activity.
Community mobilization - Through the American Cancer Society’s grassroots-based, signature fundraising event, Relay For Life, we engage students in the fight against cancer and communicate with them about the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices. In 2009, more than 75,000 elementary school students and 37,000 high school students participated in Relay For Life. Our goal is to have more than 5,000 elementary schools participate and reach 500,000 students with important information about healthy living by 2015.
The American Cancer Society fully supports the First Lady’s effort to address childhood obesity and looks forward to working collaboratively with her in her efforts to address this critical public health issue.
John Seffrin, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Otis W. Brawley, MD
Chief Medical Officer
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