First Lady Michelle Obama Says ‘Let’s Move’ to Fight Childhood Obesity, Encourage Healthy Living

Feb 9, 2010 3:01pm

ABC News’ Karen Travers reports: First lady Michelle Obama today kicked off her new initiative aimed at solving childhood obesity, called “Let’s Move,” and said now is the time to aggressively tackle this problem. “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. 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 centers around four key areas: 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. Mrs. Obama said this is not about the government telling people what to do and that experts she has talked to about this issue do not believe that is the right way to go. “Instead, I’m talking about what we can do,” she said. “I’m talking about commonsense steps we can take in our families and communities to help our kids lead active, healthy lives.” The Obama administration has set up a website – LetsMove.gov – that will provide tips and strategies for parents to bring healthy eating habits to their families, encourage their kids to exercise more and track their progress. Mrs. Obama also unveiled a new tracking system the government has set up that tracks diabetes and obesity rates across the nation and highlights areas that she deemed “food deserts” – communities without a supermarket and access to fresh, healthy food. The first lady said that for the critics who say this should not be a priority in tough economic times because school budgets are already stretched thin, “They might ask, ‘How can we spend money on fruits and vegetables in our school cafeterias when many of our schools don’t have enough textbooks or teachers?’” she said. “Or they might ask, ‘How can we afford to build parks and sidewalks when we can’t even afford our health care costs?’” Mrs. Obama said these are “false choices” and it’s not a matter of either or. “If kids aren’t getting adequate nutrition, even the best textbooks and teachers in the world won’t help them learn,” she said. “If they don’t have safe places to run and play, and they wind up with obesity-related conditions, then those health care costs will just keep rising.” The first lady noted that times have changed since she was growing up – kids walked to school, had regular school recess and gym classes and played outside. “You didn’t go inside until dinner was ready – and when it was, we would gather around the table for dinner as a family.  And there was one simple rule: you ate what Mom fixed – good, bad, or ugly.  Kids had absolutely no say in what they felt like eating,” she said. Mrs. Obama noted that dessert and fast food used to be a treat and should continue to be in order to instill in American kids good habits and moderation. “No matter how much they beg for pizza, fries and candy, ultimately, they are not, and should not, be the ones calling the shots at dinnertime,” she said. “We’re in charge. We make these decisions.” But that doesn’t mean that treats are completely off limits, the first lady said. “There’s a place for cookies and ice cream, burgers and fries – that’s part of the fun of childhood.” — Karen Travers

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