The National Institutes of Health's We Can! program has partnered with Subway Restaurants to reach families throughout the United States and beyond with practical tips and tools to help children and their parents maintain a healthy weight and prevent overweight and obesity.
The partnership will be launched today at a National P.E.P. (Play More, Eat Right, and Push Away the Screen) Rally at the D.C. Armory in Washington, D.C. The event will feature hundreds of youth, parents, and teachers, along with Subway spokesman Jared Fogle, boxing champion Laila Ali, Olympic soccer star Tab Ramos, and Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., NIH acting principal deputy director.
"Obesity is a significant public health problem, not just for adults, but also for our children who could suffer from lifelong medical and psychosocial problems," noted Tabak. "We are delighted to work with Subway Restaurants to educate children and their families about three simple steps they can take for a healthy weight: eat right, move more, and limit screen time."
Nearly 1 out of 3 children in the United States ages 2 to 19 is overweight or at risk of becoming overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Extra pounds can lead to lifelong health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. In adults, overweight and obesity contribute to these and other chronic conditions, including certain cancers.
The NIH established We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition) in June 2005 to help prevent childhood obesity. The science-based national education program brings families and communities together to promote healthy weight in children ages 8 through 13 through improved food choices, increased physical activity, and reduced screen time.
Subway will promote We Can! messages and resources in restaurants and through the SubwayKids.com Web site. In addition, in collaboration with Subway and Scholastic, Inc. We Can! materials have been adapted into fun tools and activities for teachers, students, and parents, including a "You Are What You Eat" poster, reproducible activities for students, and send-home sheets for parents. The partnership does not imply endorsement of Subway products.
The partnership also aims to strengthen We Can!’s extensive outreach in communities across the United States, with Subway providing funding for training programs for community-based educators and leaders to help them implement We Can!’s hands-on curricula for youth and for parents. Currently, more than 1,000 We Can! community sites nationwide and in 11 other countries have committed to providing We Can! programs at the local level.
At the National P.E.P. Rally, more than 300 elementary and middle school students will participate in fun and educational activities, such as Energy In/Energy Out, a tag-like game that emphasizes the importance of energy balance for a healthy weight. Ramos will lead participants in soccer training sessions, and Ali will encourage the youth to eat well and be active every day. Fogle, who is popularly known as "Jared from Subway," will also share his story and talk about the importance of maintaining a healthy weight.
"Getting kids to stay healthy and active is something I work on all year long and I am constantly on the road, going from school to school to reach out to children," said Fogle. "I’m proud to be here today to support the We Can! program on behalf of Subway Restaurants because my goal is to help children avoid the physical and emotional hardships I went through living with obesity."
National P.E.P. Rally participants will be asked to sign a pledge to show their commitment to be active at least one hour a day, to make healthy food choices, and to limit recreational screen time to no more than two hours a day. All participants will receive educational materials to support their commitment.
"Helping America's children maintain a healthy weight is a priority," said Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., director of NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which developed We Can! "By bringing together corporate partners with We Can! community sites, we believe we really can help families embrace healthy lifestyles."
For more information about We Can! and to learn more about the partnership, visit http://wecan.nhlbi.nih.gov.