Obamas Challenge American Kids to Get in Shape

In February, Michelle Obama launched her own initiative, the "Let's Move!" campaign, aimed at significantly reducing childhood obesity within a generation.

Video of First Lady Michelle Obama soccer clinic.
First Lady Michelle Obama on the Soccer Field

"Instead of just worrying and wringing our hands about it, let's do something about it. Let's act. Let's move. Let's get this done," she said at the time.

According to the White House, over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in the United States have tripled, and today, nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese.

The new Obama administration initiative has four key areas of focus: helping parents make healthy eating and lifestyle choices for their families; serving healthier food in schools; increasing access to healthy and affordable food, and increasing physical activity among the nation's youth.

Given that outreach, it seems the "Let's Move!" campaign perfectly compliments the work the fitness council aims to complete. When she announced the new campaign, Michelle Obama said that one goal would be to increase participation in the president's physical fitness challenge.

Video of Michelle Obama remarks on childhood obesity.

Yet today, there is no mention of the first lady's "Let's Move!" initiative on the council's website and it is not clear whether the two campaigns have been coordinating.

Obamas Walk the Walk Encouraged by President's Fitness Council

An administration official said the council will be a "visible leader" in the first lady's fight against obesity and will play a key role in implementing the recommendations of the Childhood Obesity Task Force Report, in particular the push for increased opportunities for physical activity for the nation's youth.

"The president's council is charged with stimulating and enhancing coordination of programs within and among the private and public sectors that promote physical activity, fitness, sports participation and good nutrition," this official said.

Michelle Obama repeatedly has stressed that her initiative is not about the government telling people what to do, but rather providing "common sense steps" for families and communities to help kids lead active and healthy lifestyles through better eating habits and physical activity.

The Obamas have tried not just to preach healthy living but to lead by example, as well. Both the president and first lady work out regularly at the White House gym and play tennis together on vacations. Obama also has lengthy weekend golf outings.

Sports are a big part of the Obama family life too, with their tween daughters playing on school soccer and basketball teams.

Presidential Fitness Council Dates Back to Eisenhower

The council was established by executive order by President Dwight Eisenhower after a 1955 article published in the New York State Journal of Medicine concluded that the nation had gone soft. American students were losing muscle tone and were falling behind their European counterparts on basic elements of physical fitness like leg lifts, sit ups and toe touches, according to a study by Dr. Hans Kraus and his partner Bonnie Prudden.

The report caught the eye of John Kelly, father of actress Grace Kelly and a national rowing champion, who passed it along to the senator from his home state of Pennsylvania. The media pounced on the study and Kraus and Prudden were invited to the White House to report their findings on the fitness of the nation's youth.

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