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: