Lakewood mayor Bob Murphy stood in front of Lasley Elementary students today and talked about how the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff view obesity as a national security issue, since 27 percent of all applicants for the armed forces are too obese to serve. The rest of the festivities were more upbeat, but they still focused on reversing the obesity epidemic.
That's because Lasley was chosen by HBO, Whole Kids Foundation and GLOBALTAP as one of a hundred schools across the country to receive new salad bars and water taps in coordination with The Weight of the Nation, an HBO documentary about obesity that will have its premiere in two weeks.
"The mission is really to support schools and also drive inspiration in kids and families for healthier eating and understanding nutrition more," says Saskia Cervantes, marketing and communications specialist for Whole Foods, which funds the Whole Kids Foundation.
The Weight of the Nation is a four-part documentary series that will air on HBO May 14 and 15. It examines obesity in terms of its consequences, the choices people can make to reverse the trend, the crisis of childhood obesity and the challenges of fighting obesity.
Events like today's donation to Lasley are part of an effort by HBO to go beyond just airing the documentary. In addition to bringing salad bars and water taps to schools, HBO will be doing community outreach to push a public health campaign, distributing the film for free in many locations and also publishing a book.
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Whole Kids will also be planting gardens at schools and creating curriculum for teachers so that they better understand nutrition and are able to effectively convey that information to their students.
Lasley is a Title I school, with many low-income and at-risk students, so it was a prime candidate for this program. The schools are also teaching salad-bar etiquette to reduce plate waste, which results when kids pick up too much stuff from the salad bar and end up throwing the excess in the trash. The idea is to get kids to take an active role in deciding to eat healthier.
"When you give kids a choice and the ability to create their food, they have a tendency to want to be more involved in it and to want to make healthier choices," says Cervantes. "So when we do kids' events and outreach when kids really get their hands on it and get to create and build it, they're much more likely to then eat it."