Today marks the first anniversary of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign to fight childhood obesity. Let’s Move is a public health initiative she launched last February with the goal of ending the obesity epidemic within a generation.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to join a phone call with the First Lady as she and surgeon general Regina Benjamin spoke to the medical community about Let’s Move’s first year, the impact it has had, and goals for the future.
I heard some facts that I already knew, like that childhood obesity has more than tripled since the 1980s, and now one in three American kids is overweight or obese (40 percent of African American and Hispanic children).
And some facts I didn’t know: According to the Dr. Benjamin, a recent study showed that as early as three years old, kids who are overweight show an inflammatory response linked to heart disease later in life.
As Michelle Obama talked, I couldn’t help notice how little she resembled the nanny-state food-police some complain about. Here’s what she sounded like to me and what Let’s Move has accomplished so far:
Obama was direct and passionate, yes. Access to healthy affordable food is her mission. But she was also humble and respectful of the fact that parents, doctors and teachers really make the difference.
Here are some of her obesity-fighting highlights:
- Several of the nation’s biggest food manufacturers have pledged to take out 1.5 trillion calories from from their foods by 2015. Walmart, for example, is slashing sugar, salt, and trans fats.
- Congress passed the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act. This gives the USDA the ability to set standards for school lunch programs (in which 32 million kids participate) and gives extra funds to those programs that meet standards so they can increase meal quality. It also supports breastfeeding, access to drinking water, farm to school programs, and more.
- Let’s Move is bringing in salad bars to schools, building safe play spaces for kids, growing gardens, and connecting chefs with schools to build food programs.
“We’re not going to stop until we end this epidemic,” said Obama.
What do you think about her Let’s Move initiative?