The Baltimore City Branch of the NAACP recently declared childhood obesity a “state of emergency,” and will hold a community information meeting and panel discussion on childhood obesity on Jan. 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Union Baptist Church in Baltimore.

The branch recently submitted a request to Congressman Elijah Cummings seeking his attendance at the discussion at which several organizations are expected to attend. “All we’re trying to do is put it at a public level that something is done and kids start getting exercise,” NAACP president Dr. Marvin Cheatham said.

“We’re seeing children all over the country affected especially in urban areas. We wanted to take the lead and direction in the country and show this is how we need to begin moving,” Cheatham said. “We have people coming from just about every walk of life whether it’s the American Diabetes Association, the Health Department schools. We’re trying to bring in everybody that can talk about how we got to where we are, understanding that we all agree it’s at an epidemic state.”

Several schools in the U.S. have cut health programs such as physical education and health education classes out of their school curriculum, a situation that has alarmed concerned individuals. According to a 2008 Update on Legislative Policy Options on Childhood Obesity issued by the National Conference on State Legislatures, obesity rates have nearly tripled for children ages two to five years old (from five percent to 14 percent), tripled for youth ages 12 to 19 (from 5 percent to 17 percent) and more than quadrupled for children ages six to 11 (from 4 percent to 19 percent).

“You can’t go to the store and buy an apple or an orange or a banana, you can buy a PayDay, Milky Way or a Starburst. Our kids have no options. Every ethnic group in the world is making chicken boxes but nobody has fruits and vegetables,” Cheatham added.

“We’re going to save our children’s lives by taking this national.”


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO