Props to Michelle Obama; she took her time and it has really paid off. Michelle Obama has pledged to fight childhood obesity. Her goal — and I believe she is passionate about this — is to eliminate childhood obesity all together. Her mission is called simply Let’s Move.
What is brilliant about her approach is the obesity epidemic in adults is put aside, but not ignored. It’s easy for nay-sayers to poo-poo trying to change behaviors in adults because they have the “freedom of choice.” Adults can always put the Twinkies down and get up and run a few laps around the neighborhood; they just “choose” not to.
But the First Lady is focusing her energies on children and, of course, you can’t decrease obesity rates in children without teaching their parents how to eat and live well too. She’ll take the adults with her almost as an afterthought. Very clever.
Obama is currently featured on the cover of Newsweek with a self-bylined article outlining her well thought out campaign. She has set up a program that uses the average day of an American child and works with the school systems, government food programs, and the food manufacturers themselves. She also gave a talk last week to the food manufacturers and gently chided them for past behaviors and encouraged them to turn over a new leaf.
Here are some excerpts from her speech:
“As of 2006, we spend 22% of groceries on sweet and salty snacks and only 12% on fruits & vegetables.”
“A recent study even found that three-year-olds who were obese already had one of the symptoms of heart disease.”
“While there were fewer food ads in children’s programming, over 70% of foods marketed to kids were still among the least healthy.”
(only 1% of foods marketed fell in the most healthy)
“It’s not enough just to limit ads for foods that aren’t healthy. It’s going to be so critical to increase marketing for foods that are healthy.”
Does that scare you? Now some of Michelle’s ideas from her Newsweek article:
“It’s now clear that between the pressures of today’s economy and the breakneck pace of modern life, the well-being of our kids has too often gotten lost in the shuffle.”
“And let’s be honest with ourselves: our kids didn’t do this to themselves. Our kids don’t decide what’s served in the school cafeteria or whether there’s time for gym class or recess. Our kids don’t choose to make food products with tons of sugar and sodium in supersize portions, and then have those products marketed to them everywhere they turn. And no matter how much they beg for fast food and candy, our kids shouldn’t be the ones calling the shots at dinnertime. We’re in charge. We make these decision.”
“Let’s Move is about families making manageable changes that fit with their schedules, their budgets, and their needs and tastes. It’s about giving parents the tools they need to keep their families healthy and fit, and getting more nutritious food — more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and less sugar, fat , and salt — into our nation’s schools. It’s about helping grocery stores serve communities that don’t have access to fresh foods, and finding new ways to help our kids stay physically active in school and at home.”
See, very clever letting adults know that we’re responsible for the obesity epidemic in children and gently prodding us to do something about it. There is joint responsibility in her approach between food manufacturers, parents, and the school systems and other government programs. Bravo! It will take a village to solve this problem; no one player will be able to do it alone.
I believe if Michelle succeeds in eliminating childhood obesity as a problem within one generation, which is the goal of Let’s Move, she could quite possibly be one of the most influential Americans of this new decade. If you think about it, 7 of 10 of the top causes of death in the United States have obesity as a contributing factor. By living healthier lives and keeping obesity in check, we could literally fix our economic woes as we increase our life spans.
According to the Center for Disease Control, the economic cost for diabetes in the US n 2007 was $174 billion alone and that’s just one disease!
This is how I think Michelle’s husband should fix healthcare, and it dovetails nicely with the First Lady’s thoughts.
If you’d like to know where you state ranks for obesity and childhood obesity, click here. And follow @obamafoodorama on twitter as a great resource for more information: the good, the bad and the ugly.
I hope this piece moved you and you’d like to take action. Please let me know if I can help in any way. I would love your thoughts on what you’d like to do…