Michelle Obama Might Have It Wrong on Childhood Obesity

Mrs. Obama tackles childhood obesity. Should we go after the adults, too?

Michelle Obama has been pretty amazing in her crusade against childhood obesity.  She has wisely focused on the children, a group that it’s hard to argue doesn’t need our help.  Maybe adults can make poor choices that ultimately affect their health for the worse, but how can children be responsible for their health?

The Let’s Move campaign is a great marketing strategy that has worked quite well, sparking a plethora of ideas to combat childhood obesity, from overhauling school lunch programs, to providing better green spaces for children to play in, to packaging carrots in a way to make them more appealing to kids, to banning sugary drinks from schools.  I heartily applaud the changes she’s helped to implement.

But now a study says there might be a cheaper way.  Go after the parents instead.

The study looked at two groups over a five month period.  One was parent-only in focus, teaching good nutrition and exercise guidelines, while a second group was parents and children combined, using the same information as the parents-only group.  The impact on the kids was the same, both groups improved their health at about the same rate.  BUT, the parent-only group was less expensive to run.

So should we swing our focus back to adults?  It’s easy to blame an overweight person for being in their situation.  They are the ones that keep eating and sitting in front of the TV.  But is that fair?  What if they learned from their parents who didn’t know any better? Or if they live in an area with limited access to green spaces?  What if they simply can’t afford fruits and veggies and are stuck on a macaroni and cheese diet?

If the adult-only groups are cheaper to run than we can reach more people with the same amount of dollars. Should we consider it?

I say let’s add that on to what we’re already doing.  Keep working on the kids for a bottom-up approach and focus on the adults, too, for a trickle-down strategy.  There are so many different family dynamics at play; we should be using our full arsenal to get through to as many people as possible.

What do you think?  Should we work both approaches or should we jettison the adults and keep focusing on the kids?  What has your community done to help kids and adults lead healthier lives?

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Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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4 Responses to Michelle Obama Might Have It Wrong on Childhood Obesity

  1. Kris @Krazy_kris November 30, 2010 at 10:50 am #

    Bingo! I’m not proud to say that I haven’t taught my son well. But I can’t teach him what I don’t do,and my “health” journey didn’t start until he was older. Sigh… That’s a sad issue for me, but like me, he will have his own path on this one. Nice post Lisa ~

  2. Lisa Johnson November 30, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    Thanks Kris, but a child (even an older child) watching his parent learn and change is still a pretty good thing too. :-) Don’t worry he sees what you’re doing and he’s taking mental notes.

  3. Health Votes December 6, 2010 at 3:06 am #

    Michelle is actually right in focusing on the kids instead of the parents. think about it, by focusing on the kids you will not only help the kid to make better health choices, but when the kid grows up into a parent, you don’t have to teach that parent and his kid. Seriously, it is time to focus on the next generation, and honestly they catch the message better than their parents do…

  4. Lisa Johnson December 6, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    Hi Health Votes,

    I have to say my true opinion is why not do both? I do believe we’re at a Tipping Point in the US and we can finally get enough momentum going to educate everyone. It really is amazing how much people simply don’t know … a littl education goes a long way … thanks for your input though. I very much appreciate people challenging my posts, helps us all learn more.

    Thanks,

    Lisa

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