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Michelle Obama: Let’s tackle childhood obesity. Let’s Move.

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It is an ugly fact: Nearly a third of our children are overweight or obese. That’s one out of three kids on our elementary school playgrounds, in our middle school hallways, in our high school classrooms. And Michelle Obama is taking aim.

Today, the “mom-in-chief,” as she calls herself, is launching “Let’s Move,” a program she hopes will help eradicate childhood obesity in a generation.

"It's an ambitious goal, but we don't have time to wait," the first lady said in an interview with USA Today.”We’ve got to stop citing statistics and wringing our hands and feeling guilty, and get going on this issue."

Obama says she experienced the issue firsthand when her children’s pediatrician talked to her a couple of years ago about weight fluctuations he was seeing in her girls.

“I was shocked because my kids looked perfectly fine to me," Obama told the newspaper. "But I had a wake-up call." Like many parents, however, "I didn't know what to do."

Her message will focus on the basics: Parents should make sure their children eat more fruits and vegetables, cut out sugary soft drinks and junk food, limit television time and get more exercise in their daily lives. It’s not an easy prescription in today’s hectic, multitasking drive-through world, but it is vitally important.

"We've seen the surge in obesity in this country is nothing short of a public health crisis, and it's threatening our children, it's threatening our families, and more importantly it's threatening the future of this nation," she told an audience at a Virginia YMCA in January. "Higher rates of obesity are directly linked, as you've heard, to higher rates of chronic illnesses like heart disease and cancer and diabetes."

From ABC News:

“This morning President Obama will sign a presidential memorandum on childhood obesity to create the first-ever federal task force on childhood obesity, involving several federal agencies from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Health and Human Services, the first lady said.
“The task force will be charged with coming up with a "long-term action plan" after an extensive review of all federal nutrition programs.

“President Obama also plans to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act, the first lady said, and is proposing a $10 billion budget increase -- $1 billion a year for 10 years -- to help provide nutritious school lunches to those who qualify.”

But Obama notes that the government’s role in this program is actually fairly minor. She knows that what’s at home on the dinner table is critical.

More from the story:

“Parents are hitting up against a brick wall, again, trying to make it all work – hold hold down a job, get kids to activities, cover homework, get them to extracurriculars and then let's shop and cook for meals?"

To help parents, the first lady said she's working with the Food and Drug Administration and major food manufacturers to make it easier for parents to identify healthier foods by placing nutrition labeling on the front of the package.

Obama doesn't expect families to make drastic changes, only to balance indulgences with healthy options.

"I love burgers and fries, you know? And I love ice cream and cake. So do most kids. We're not talking about a lifestyle that excludes all that. That's the fun of being a kid. That's the fun of being a human," she said.

IS YOUR CHILD OVERWEIGHT? You can calculate your children’s BMI, or Body Mass Index, with a calculator here:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s web page on childhood obesity:

The USA Today story:
The ABC News story:

Add a Comment10 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

This isn't right! The domination of the skinny people is finally reaching its end. No more ripping off in school. No more humiliation. We should all stand up for obesity as we have done until now.

May 4, 2010 - 12:08pm
EmpowHER Guest

I know im not a her, but i love children all the same.

to strengthen this argument, and the importance of this crisis.. let a TED prize winner explain, in a wonderfully amazing speech



February 16, 2010 - 1:37pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

oh i just wanted to add a little conspiracy to all this also..
if people will think.. "shrewd business man".. for just a moment..

With regards to our Healthcare debate.. and why nationalized health care is finding resistance on so many sides. If i owned a food processing plant, and well as most businesses progress, diversifing my portfolio in lets say.. Health Care.. it would make sense to produce unhealthy and terrible food, only to push the same client/customer base to buy your other highly expensive product.. Healthcare.. you get them on bothsides of the fence..

hmm just a thought..

remember people are just a resource to the big-wigs on top ,like anything else.
to be exploited

February 16, 2010 - 1:42pm

It's not just a matter of getting the kids outdoors to play. Our entire country has an obesity epidemic, and it's partially because we don't exercise enough, and partially because of the foods we're eating. Our high-fat, high-carb diets, fed with fast-food drive-through habits and busy lives where we grab snacks out of vending machines, is also to blame. To change the shape of our children, we will have to change the family diet as well. And that's the hardest in poorest communities. Lean meat, veggies and fruit cost more, are more labor-intensive, and spoil more quickly. I think Michelle Obama's platform is wonderful and I hope she's successful in making it happen in a generation. But I fear that's not enough time in our busy, convenience-oriented world.

February 12, 2010 - 8:59am
EmpowHER Guest

I think that it is very sad when it comes to children today. When i was young we played outside until the sun set. If children would get outside and play they would be hungry for real food when they come it. I know that the world is busy these days, but I feel we need to stop protecting our children so much and let them be children. Maybe then they wouldn't have a weight problem.

February 11, 2010 - 4:35pm
EmpowHER Guest

I work at an elementary school and I think that parents are part of the problem. Kids are spoiled to the point where they can't even lose in a game. The school I work at had to ban competitive games because they were getting increasingly more complaints in recent years. There is no basketball, hockey, dodgeball, volleyball, or any other sport allowed that might make one group of kids upset. I can see why kids would rather play video games. We need to reverse this trend or kids will continue to stay indoors. With that said, I am glad the first lady is sticking her head out there to trying to help.

February 11, 2010 - 8:12am
EmpowHER Guest

I am a family nurse practitioner, see many children. I also see lots of kids with weight problems-they eat crap all day, go home and play video games all evening, drink soda and sports drink. It is very tough to get parents to change behaviors. I am also seeing teens especially with weight issues developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

February 10, 2010 - 6:25am

I've read this in almost every publication and could not be more proud of a public figure finally standing up! The only thing wrong with this situation is that we (as a country) have let it go on this long. It's time to change kids and it's SO possible! If every generation before did not struggle with weight, there's no reason this generation of children should be worse off.

February 9, 2010 - 3:33pm
EmpowHER Guest

Get kids moving! An easy way for parents and teachers to get kids up and dancing is free online -- fun song, fun dance -- download lyrics and choreography:


It's the Zombie Workout song!

Repeat the song and dance faster and faster as a competition - last one standing is the champion zombie fighter.

February 9, 2010 - 10:20am

Thanks for the article, Diane. One thing I am definitely passionate about it children playing outside or inside as long as they are not vegging all day. Television and Video Games have taken over to the point where children don't go outside to play anymore because they'd rather be playing Guitar Hero or some violent game like Modern Warfare which they probably shouldn't be playing in the first place. I cannot ban video games 100% in my house because my husband owns an XBOX so it would be contradictory, but lucky for me he plays it about twice a month if that.

It's a constant struggle with my teen sister to get her go outside for a walk. She constantly complains about being overweight but has decided that going outside "is boring" or too much work, apparently.
For us, our children playing outside will help us take some time to ourselves and the children get their daily exercise.

February 9, 2010 - 8:25am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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