Michelle Obama to visit Camden Yards to promote anti-obesity program

First lady Michelle Obama will be at Oriole Park at Camden Yards next week to promote her "Let's Move!" campaign to end childhood obesity.

Obama is expected on Tuesday to an announce a joint initiative between her campaign and Major League Baseball, the White House announced Friday.

The program's goal is to address the problem of childhood obesity within a generation, according to its website, so the children of today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight.

After Tuesday's announcement, Orioles Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Will Ohman and and Corey Patterson — as well as visiting Tampa Bay Rays players — will host a clinic for 50 baseball players from local Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities leagues and Boys & Girls Clubs.

At the O's-Rays game, the first lady is scheduled to throw out the first pitch. The initiative's announcement and the clinic are not open to the public, but the Orioles are encouraging fans to arrive earlier than normal because of heightened security measures.

The obesity campaign began when Obama first broke ground on a White House kitchen garden with students from a local elementary school in Washington to teach kids about nutrition, according to the Let's Move! site. The campaign's site promotes "empowering parents and caregivers, providing healthy food in schools, improving access to healthy, affordable foods and increasing physical activity."

President Barack Obama has created a task force on childhood obesity to review programs and policies related to child nutrition and physical activity and to develop a national action plan.

Children are considered overweight when their body mass index is between the 85th and 95th percentiles for their age and gender. Obese children have BMIs at or above the 95th percentile.

In Maryland, 32 percent of children are obese or overweight by the time they enter kindergarten, according to Dr. Alan M. Lake, a Lutherville pediatrician and chairman of the obesity prevention task force of the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Since Obama's campaign was launched in February, city leaders have followed suit, naming a "food czar" to lead the battle against poor eating habits linked to the obesity and alarming levels of heart disease and diabetes in Baltimore's poorer neighborhoods.

A Baltimore City Food Policy Task Force report released this year showed that more than two-thirds of the city's adults and almost 40 percent of high school students were overweight or obese.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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