Michelle Obama’s commitment to improving the health of American families is a cause that she takes very seriously. This past Wednesday, January 20, 2010, the first lady spoke at the U.S. Conference of Mayors about her plans to launch a new federal initiative designed to reduce childhood obesity and improve the health of all American children.
According to USA Today, the initiative will involve the federal government working with local officials and leaders in the business and non-profit sectors to provide more nutritious food in schools, allow more opportunities for kids to be physically active and give more communities access to affordable, healthful food.
The statistical picture of kids’ health in this country is far from impressive. According to the U.S. government, 32 percent of children and adolescents are obese or overweight and almost 20 percent of children ages 6 to 11 and 18 percent of those ages 12 to 19 are obese.
Overweight or obese children are much more likely to become overweight or obese adults, and with those extra pounds comes a host of health conditions like high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Michelle Obama is not just the wife of the president, but she is also a mother who has firsthand experience how tough it can be to dodge the ubiquitous pressure of fast-food drive-thrus, grocery stores lined with sugary, nutrient-void processed foods and vending machines brimming with sodas and energy drinks, all of which are marketed specifically to kids and parents who are in need of something fast and flavorful to feed their hungry broods.
In fact, Mrs. Obama even admitted to being told by her daughters’ pediatrician to be more careful about the foods she was feeding her girls. So she became smarter about the meals she prepared and when she stepped into the White House last year she began the White House vegetable garden and frequently participates in physical activities, like hula hoop dancing, with young visitors, sending a strong message to Americans that healthy habits start at home.
Realizing that today’s economic times make the dollar menu enticing for cash-strapped parents, but also recognizing that American families want to do what is right for their kids, Mrs. Obama is hopeful that her obesity-fighting initiative will empower parents and communities to lead healthier and more nutritious lives:
“We don’t need to wait for some new invention or discovery to make this happen. This doesn’t require fancy tools or technologies. We have everything we need right now — we have the information, we have the ideas, and we have the desire to start solving America’s childhood obesity problem.”