Nearly a decade ago, we committed $500 million to the goal of reversing the childhood obesity epidemic. We were joined not only by national leaders like First Lady Michelle Obama but also by thousands of parents, business leaders, nonprofit groups, policymakers and young people themselves.

Together, we committed to build healthier communities, places where all children and families can enjoy healthy affordable foods and opportunities to be physically active, no matter where they live or how much money they have.

Continuing on

We cannot declare victory yet, but we can celebrate real signs of progress. The latest research shows that childhood obesity rates have stopped rising and may be declining among the youngest age groups. And communities that were among the first to take on this challenge are reporting significant declines in childhood obesity.

This good news is encouraging and exciting. I am more confident than ever that we can help all children grow up at a healthy weight and have their best chance at a healthy life. It’s what all parents want for their children.

Now, we must accelerate the pace of progress and ensure that its benefits reach all our communities. That’s why our foundation committed a second $500 million to the cause earlier this year. But we need your help. Will you join us to create a culture of health in every community in the nation—a culture in which health is valued and expected, and families are surrounded by opportunities to make healthy choices?

Here are some ways you can help:

  • Start early. Talk with your health care provider and preschools in your community about helping our youngest children get a healthy start. The early years are critical, because children who enter Kindergarten at a healthy weight are more likely to maintain that healthy weight into adulthood.

  • Talk with teachers and principals about making a healthy school environment the norm from Kindergarten through high school.

  • Make physical activity a part of the everyday experience for children and youth. Encourage your kids to be active and work with community leaders to create new places for children to play.

  • Don’t serve sugar-sweetened beverages to children under five and ask your friends, preschools and community centers to join you in providing only water, milk, and 100 percent juice drinks to our youngest children.

  • Raise your voice for healthy foods. Tell your local restaurant, corner store or supermarket that you want healthier choices. Never underestimate the power of people working together.

If we do all these things, we will finish the job and ensure that all children grow up at a healthy weight.