Gov. Kim Reynolds a new state initiative to help combat childhood obesity. She made the remarks at a news conference in Ames on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017.
William Petroski/The Register
AMES, Ia. — Iowa children should be urged to make healthy food choices to combat obesity, says Gov. Kim Reynolds, adding it will help them contribute to the state’s economic success.
Reynolds and acting Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg unveiled a statewide childhood health campaign Tuesday during a news conference here. The “5210 — Healthy Choices Count” program is a public-private partnership with the Healthiest State Initiative and the Iowa Department of Public Health.
The governor said 5210 is a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program that focuses on the importance of four simple daily health habits:
- Five or more servings of fruits and vegetables;
- Two hours or less of screen time, including television, computers, video games, phones, and other devices.
- One hour or more of physical activity;
- No sugar-sweetened beverages or reduced sweetened beverages.
“Research has shown that children who have healthy eating habits, are physically active and spend less time in front of a screen do better in school,” Reynolds said. “Their reading scores improve, they are able to maintain better focus in class and they sleep better. Children who do better in school are more likely to pursue post-secondary education and are better equipped to contribute to Iowa’s economic success.”
Gregg said he and the governor “are not here to tell you what to do but to help you make the healthy choice the easy choice.” He added that the 5210 plan provides an “environment to thrive and create healthy habits.”
Gerd Clabaugh, director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, said the new campaign is the first statewide effort to provide consistent messaging and programming regarding the subject of childhood obesity.
“If families are exposed to consistent messaging in many places, they are more likely to adopt and maintain healthy behaviors in their daily lives,” Clabaugh said.
In November and December 2017, the statewide 5210 campaign will include toolkits, social media, advertising, website content and community commitments. State health officials are also working directly with the communities of Malvern, Dubuque, Mount Pleasant and West Union to implement communitywide strategies around 5210. Each community will receive $18,000 to improve access to a healthy environment.
In the Des Moines metro area, the United Way of Central Iowa will work with local healthcare providers and will continue its work with Visiting Nurse Services to improve child care, out-of-school and school environments, the governor’s office said.
Reynolds’ predecessor, Terry Branstad, also was a strong supporter of efforts to improve the health of Iowans. But some prominent Republicans have mocked such ideas, particularly former First Lady Michelle Obama’s push for healthy school lunches.
U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, has described limits on calories for school lunches as an example of “the misguided nanny state.” And during a campaign rally in Des Moines just prior to the 2016 Iowa caucuses, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz remarked that if his wife, Heidi, became first lady, “french fries are coming back to the cafeteria.”
Reynolds responded to a question Tuesday about some Republican politicians’ criticism of such approaches by saying, “I am the governor of the state of Iowa and I am going to control what I can control.”
The governor added, “We are going to continue to talk about making the right choice the easy choice, and we are going to continue to get out there and help educate and work with Iowans so that we can become the healthiest state in the nation.”