CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Many of the state's faith-based organizations are partnering with their communities to fight childhood obesity.
The Appalachian Regional Commission and Save the Children on Tuesday announced their support for an initiative that brings together multi-denominational faith leaders in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky to work together with teachers to improve childhood nutrition and increase physical activity.
"Faith leaders are completely motivated," said Andrew Hysell, associate vice president of Save the Children. "They've got all these great things going on. The schools, I think, are really open for some community support, so let's just bring these people together and they'll make it happen."
Save the Children's "Campaign for Healthy Kids" partners with First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative, which aims to improve the health of children and combat childhood obesity.
Nationally, more than 1,000 faith and community members have signed up to take part in the Let's Move Faith and Community program, Hysell said.
One in three children in the United States is obese or overweight, he said.
"If this trend is left unabated, this will be the first time in modern times that our children will live shorter lives than us," he said. "This public health crisis demands response now."
Dr. Janey Thornton, the deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said health care for obesity-related illnesses costs the United States $50 billion annually.
"You think what a country could do with that amount of money," Thornton said.
Schools can't combat obesity on their own, Thornton said, adding that everyone has to work together.