Today, in this corner: The companies that bring us cookies and cola, potato chips and dip, super sizes and big bags and giant gulps.
In the opposite corner: None other than Michelle Obama, the first lady of the United States, who is determined to make a difference in childhood obesity.
Who are you betting on?
If you said the food companies, you wouldn’t be alone. They spend billions each year putting snacks and goodies that populate commercials, fill grocery aisles and school vending machines, and make their way into our homes – and stomachs.
And we buy it. Boy do we buy it. The country is in an obesity crisis, and now a third of our children have followed suit.
It’s not exactly going to be a smackdown. The Grocery Manufacturers Association put the welcome mat out and invited Mrs. Obama to speak at her science forum today. From the Associated Press:
“Welcoming the first lady and embracing her campaign for healthier kids, launched earlier this year, could have advantages.
“The industry is positioned to take some blows in the coming year, including a child nutrition bill about to move through Congress that could eliminate junk food in schools, digging into some companies' profits.
“The Food and Drug Administration is also beginning to crack down on misleading labeling on food packages, saying some items labeled "healthy" are not, and the Senate last year mulled a tax on soda and other sweetened drinks to help pay for overhauling health care.
“That tax did not make it into the health care bill, but it could be seen as an opening shot in a quietly growing effort to target food companies, especially as local, state and federal governments scrounge for revenue in a tight fiscal environment.”
This is the first time that the first lady will have spoken directly to food manufacturers. Previously, her audiences have been primarily schools and nutrition groups.
Newsweek, for one, is taking note. The magazine has a cover story by Michelle Obama, who writes directly to readers about childhood obesity, and how childhoods have changed since today’s adults were children. An excerpt: