Health groups tell Michelle Obama: Conserve land to prevent obesity

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Money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is used as matching grants to help state and local governments buy and develop outdoor areas and "provides much-needed resources for rural and urban communities looking to combat childhood obesity by increasing the number of safe places for kids to walk and play outside," they wrote.

"State and local governments in every county in the U.S. have used LWCF matching grants to build or renovate playgrounds, parks, swimming pools, urban bike paths, soccer fields, baseball fields and other facilities," the organizations added.

The program gets some money from royalties oil-and-gas companies pay the government for development on federal land, but much of those funds are diverted to other purposes, the organizations said, "dramatically impacting efforts to build safe places for kids to get outside."

The groups want Obama to make funding the federal program a priority of her Let's Move! campaign.

The letter was sent late Wednesday, hours after the American Medical Association voted to treat obesity as a disease and lawmakers in the House and Senate unveiled legislation to make Medicare cover addition treatments for the condition.