Sarah Palin vs. Michelle Obama: Obesity and the Dessert WarsHeather Turgeon
We know that Sarah Palin likes to take shots at Michelle Obama’s campaign to fight childhood obesity. In an interview on the Laura Ingraham’s radio show last month, Palin ranted that Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative was another example of the government getting in our business, and that Obama should get off “her anti-obesity thing she’s on.”
Now Palin’s back to giving dessert props — making statements about how nanny-like it is that Obama and health officials are trying to promote healthy eating. Remember last month when she brought cookies to a Pennsylvania school that was considering a ban on sweets at school parties?
This week on her TV show, Sarah Palin’s Alaska, she chided the first lady’s healthy eating initiative by asking for s’mores ingredients and then saying the following:
“This is in honor of Michelle Obama, who said the other day we should not have dessert.”
Obama actually didn’t say that. At a recent speaking engagement she said: “The problem is when things get out of balance. When dessert is practically a food group.”
Palin’s point is that government shouldn’t meddle in personal issues like diet — that’s the parent’s domain. One conservative commentator likened Obama’s initiative to the government starting an “early bedtime” campaign. In other words, let families take care of developing healthy habits.
But here’s why that doesn’t make any sense: Government policies have contributed to the obesity epidemic in the first place, so how would we possibly combat it without change at the government level? Part of the reason childhood obesity has tripled since the 1980s is that the supposedly “free choices” conservatives talk about are not free. The playing field is not level. Subsidies make for artificially cheap (and artificially flavor-boosted) processed food, and as we learned last month, government entities like the USDA are involved in the creation and marketing of heart-stoppers like double-cheese Domino’s pizza.
Sounds like Mike Huckabee agrees — he weighed in on the debate today and sided with Obama.
So I’m all for desserts — as a family, we’ll be eating plenty over the holidays. But if you really want to give parents free choices when it comes to foods, then apples and asparagus have to be on a level playing field with preservative-filled, processed frozen dinners — equally economical and with the nutritional content clearly labeled. Then let us make the choice.