Thursday, February 11, 2010

Michelle Obama and the "Let's Move" Campaign

Back on January 30th, I wrote a little post about the then upcoming announcement of the initiative to be led by the First Lady to combat obesity. If you didn't see it then, here's a link to check it out. Well, on Tuesday Mrs. Obama officially kicked off the "Let's Move" campaign!

This initiative is coming at a difficult time in our history when people are struggling to stretch every dime as far as possible, but it is imperative to tackle this now before it gets even worse. Just yesterday a study was released in the New England Journal of Medicine that followed 5,000 people from childhood into adulthood. The study found that those who were obese as children doubled their risk of dying before the age of 55 than those who were of normal weight. Scary.

President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum Tuesday morning establishing a task force on childhood obesity that is chaired by The Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and includes the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, and Education along with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and others who are deemed necessary by the Chair. As you can see, a many departments will be included in this task force. They will oversee the program, ensuring that local and state governments as well as public and nonprofit organizations, schools, and communities play an active role. Other administrations, as far back as Eisenhower, have tried to turn this problem around but failed, so the First Lady and this task force have a big hill to climb before they can declare that childhood obesity is no longer an epidemic (which they plan to do within one generation).

These four objectives were laid out in the memorandum:
  1. ensure access to health, affordable food
  2. increase physical activities in schools and communities
  3. provide healthier food in schools
  4. provide parents with information and tools to make good choices for themselves and their children
While I love the fact that so much attention and action is being paid to this problem, I have one gripe. That is the fact that this is focusing on children rather than the entire community. Not only are our children obese or overweight, but the CDC has found that 68% of adults in the US are overweight, half of them obese. That's a problem too. My hope is that some of the efforts taken in association with this initiative will spill over and help everyone in the community. It is definitely important to address obesity in children so they may learn how to make healthy decisions at an earlier age (rather than falling into unhealthy patterns) but we also need to help those who are facing weight related medical problems later in life as well. Even adults with hypertension can turn things around if they lose weight, increase activity levels and eat well. It's not a lost cause for overweight adults and we can't forget that. Hopefully communities and organizations who get involved will recognize this and include everyone! If you ask me, I think a healthier community is also a happier, safer and more productive community!

Now, if any of you reading this are associated with the Let's Move campaign, please know that I would LOVE to be a part of it! I have great hopes and confidence that this will make a difference. I'm available to start work tomorrow, so just reach out! I'm ready!

I'll probably be writing about this frequently as the months go by and things start happening. It will be interesting to see how industry and government really work together to make changes.

Alex Wong/Getty Images


Molly said...

I agree that parents need to have a major role in dealing with childhood obesity. I try to set a good example by eating healthy, and exercising. I love it when my kids eat edamame with me, or ask how my run went, or ask to take a walk or bike ride.

Sally said...

I wholeheartedly agree - this is an overall problem throughout the U.S. and not just children.

Here from SITS. I admire you for reaching out. :)

Jamoosh said...

I think they should implement a "Calorie Tax" when buying from restaurants...

Anonymous said...

This is EXACTLY the right step in the right direction that we need to put a stop to obesity! I am 100% on board and seriously, like you I would love to help out. Programs like this NEED to happen! They NEED to work.

gracela said...

I completely agree with you that this is a problem for everyone, not just children. But the interesting thing is that when we focus our attention on children, adults start to pay attention too. But not the other way around. When adults are told to eat right and exercise, no one does. When we educate our children, not only are the future generations molded but parents become encouraged to do something for themselves.

I think a great example of this is the "buckle up" campaign. When schools started teaching kids the importance of buckling up, parents started to do it too. I remember I used to be extremely harsh with my parents as a kid about wearing their seat belts...and I still am!