Grade 1 Report Card

Grades on Four Dimensions for Let’s Move!

In case you missed it, First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! program just hit its fifth birthday and the First Lady used White House Easter festivities as an opportunity to celebrate the occasion. So it seems like the right moment to assess where the program has brought us.

  1. Childhood Obesity Rates: C. The explicit goal of Let’s Move is “solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight.” The most optimistic assessment is that signs of downward trends are showing up in selected preschool populations. The cautious assessment is that childhood obesity rates may be stabilizing and we don’t know why. The more pessimistic assessment is that cherry-picked data is being used to obscure an overall childhood obesity rate that remains at historically high levels.
  2. Leadership: B+. We will hand it to the First Lady. Really stepping out and leading on an issue like childhood obesity takes some guts. She has challenged the food industry to step up with initiatives like the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation. She has picked a few fights and survived them. She has brought some diverse stakeholders together to advocate for positive change. In other ways, the Let’s Move! program has been timid and thus falls short of an A. Easy sound bites and flashy images sometimes gloss over the complexity of the problem. Families and kids already severely affected by obesity (lots of them) are nowhere to be seen.
  3. School Nutrition: B. Bringing change in school nutrition is a big accomplishment. Across the board, higher standards are in place. Pushback from political opponents has done little to reverse that progress. But setting nutrition standards is risky business. Scientists question the evidence base for tough decisions. Kids have complained about the food (surprise!). And administrators have raised issues with higher costs and food waste. If we were grading on a curve, this might have been an A, but no such luck.
  4. Movement: A. Any doubt about the First Lady giving her all to get people moving should be dispelled by a look at the video above. If anyone can sit still after seeing it, you should check their pulse.

Click here to read more from CNN. If your browser has any trouble with the video above, you can find it here on YouTube.

Grade 1 Report Card, photograph © Malcolm / flickr

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