Michelle Obama Vows More of Let’s Move
First Lady Michelle Obama was in Europe this weekend, promising more of Let’s Move, even after she leaves the White House. Speaking with reporters, she described the progress she believes she has made:
Taken together, these changes are starting to have an impact. Childhood obesity rates have finally stopped rising, and obesity rates are actually falling among our youngest children.But while the progress we’ve made is impressive, it’s also incredibly fragile, and we still have a long way to go before we finally solve this problem. And while I am in my final stretch as First Lady, I have no intention of slowing down on this issue. I plan to continue this work long after I leave the White House.
Is this a good thing? From our perspective it’s a bit of a mixed blessing. On one hand, the First Lady has brought attention to the quality of food in schools and raised the standards. She has relentlessly pushed forward with an update to Nutrition Facts labeling that was badly needed. She has fostered engagement with the food industry to take action to improve the quality of our food supply — though some are impatient with what they see as slow progress on this front.
On the other hand, the Let’s Move campaign has been remarkably timid and captive to public misunderstanding of the complex nature of obesity. Mostly the First Lady appears in the media as a cheer leading mom urging kids and parents to get moving more, plant gardens, and eat healthy. While these are all good things to do, they are hardly bold new messages. And they are hardly adequate to reverse the trends in obesity.
Mrs. Obama’s messaging has caved to a popular perception that obesity is a simple problem of bad personal choices. Urge people to make better choices often enough and the problem will be solved. She has largely ignored the complexity of obesity as a chronic disease that severely affects about 20 million Americans and millions of children. In fact, if you look closely at her media events, you will note that children who are living with obesity are mostly absent.
Perhaps she believes children living with obesity are bad examples.
So, if the First Lady wants to continue working on this issue after 2016, we hope she will develop some interest in children and families who are living with obesity. We hope she will develop an interest in policies that will make a difference for people of all sizes and shapes.
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