Michelle Obama: You Can’t Mandate Healthy Eating

By Jonathan Blakely

Mar 17, 2010 4:05pm

From Lisa Jones:

First Lady Michelle Obama compared her nation-wide child obesity campaign to the campaign to require Americans to wear seatbelts that culturally people have to be ready to make the shift without a mandate.

“You cannot mandate, legislate seat belt wearing.  You could, but does it really work?  The same thing is true for how we eat and how we live.  You can’t tell people what to do in their own homes, and nor should you. “

Interviewed by Newsweek Magazine’s John Meacham today following penning her cover story for next week’s copy – the First Lady said today that like with seat belt laws, Americans are now ready to take in the information.

Speaking to roughly 120 Newsweek guests at the Newseum, Mrs. Obama espoused that all experts agree that the government can never mandate personal behavior, but the Let’s Move! Initiative is being well received, because the country is now ready to tackle the issue.

“We have the food industry coming together, and bipartisan support all over the country, parents feeling excited and support it, kids- –they’re coming– and we’ve got the professional sports community standing by.”

One of the focuses will be to provide healthy foods that are affordable.

According to Mrs. Obama, the school lunch program “is going to be a major player in the whole resource issue because many kids are getting the majority of their meals at school.  So that's one of those areas where we have some control over as a society because we’re going to feed these kids for two out of three or four of their meals, depending upon how many they have.  So we need to make sure that we pass legislation that makes sense, that sets clear basic nutritional guidelines, not just in the school lunch lines, but in the vending machines and a la carte lines; that we have the resources to help schools bring their standards up.”

Mrs. Obama stated other goals that can be instituted from a federal level, such as working with the FDA on packaging, leverage federal monies to try to create grocery stores in underserved communities where there are “food deserts” where no local supermarkets exists, help create better food in our school lunch programs.

When asked by Meachem about putting warning labels on Twinkies, she responded that this “strikes me as an extreme.”

She stated that we are all in favor of snacks and chips, and Twinkies are fine, but we need to know what is in a Twinkie; we need labels with ingredients and portions that our easy to understand.

“We have to change the way we view food and health forever.  And we can start with kids, because their habits haven’t been ingrained. “

FLOTUS Fashion Watch: Mrs. Obama wore a green dress with mustard cardigan and thick silver belt.

-Lisa Jones

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