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Michelle Obama’s Obesity Comments about Sasha and Malia

Michelle Obama has had a tremendous impact on American families with her push for living healthy and goal of eliminating childhood obesity in her role as first lady. She announced recently that her new initiative aimed at targeting childhood obesity is under way, and adds that her feelings on the program crystallized when she was faced with a less than favorable report from her daughters’, Sasha and Malia, pediatrician.michelle obama children

“We went to our pediatrician all the time,” Obama said, via ABC News. “I thought my kids were perfect — they are and always will be — but [the doctor] warned that he was concerned that something was getting off balance.”

Mrs. Obama says that she was too close to really see the changes in her girls and when the doctor suggested that Mrs. Obama look at her daughters’ BMI numbers, she made small diet changes. Those small changes that she made in their daily habits helped to pull the numbers back into balance.

Instead of being applauded for her efforts, Mrs. Obama has been the subject of controversy for her use of the word “diet.” Reports have said that by using her daughters as an example, she may have harmed their self-esteem. Some critics have said that she should have focused more on lifestyle change, instead of weight loss.

As a mom of young girls, I can see both sides of this issue. I think Mrs. Obama – and President Obama, too, for he has discussed his daughter’s weight and need to diet in the media before – meant well. They were trying to get a message across, and using he word “diet” is indeed sending a clear message.

I try really hard not to use the word diet; for me, the term “diet” demonstrates¬† a beginning and an end. I truly do not want my girls – or my boys for that matter, but girls struggle more with this issue – to think that healthy eating is a “once in a while, until you reach your goal weight” event. If weight was beginning to be an issue, I would work with them to make small, sustainable steps to improve their overall health – choosing water over soda, for example, or whole fruit instead of juice.

The tween/teen years are difficult enough, and hormonal changes and puberty can cause a young girl’s body to make so many changes that often, a focus on obesity becomes a focus on appearance. Focusing on appearance can often lead to eating disorders.¬† The take away message that I want my children to remember from our discussions on weight is, “I love you just exactly the way you are. I want you to be the best that you can be. Let’s play and eat well so that we can be at our best and enjoy our time together for years to come.”

Also Read:

Sasha and Malia Obama’s Healthy School Lunch Menu

Michelle Obama Spotlights Child Obesity Epidemic

Barack Obama Chili Recipe

February 8th, 2010

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(Page 1 of 1, 12 total comments)

hans

Great initiative. With my wife we run a healthy eating center in Russia. We have the same issues in Russia but nobody addresses them.

So great it would be to have the same activity here in Russia.

posted Mar 9th, 2011 6:28 am


anonymous

What kind of parent would say that they thought their children were perfect?! On a camera?! I would call that narcissistic and would hope that those girls don't get picked on for what their mother said.

posted Apr 11th, 2010 2:33 am


Lesli

I'm with those who think the Obama parents were doing just fine in their use of "diet"...as in, an individual's regular way of eating. I use that word with my children, preceded by "healthy", "our", or sometimes, like on fast food for dinner nights, "if we did this all the time it wouldn't be considered a healthy" or whatever other descriptor, specifically so they don't grow up with negative and inherently incorrect associations with that word, and so will not misunderstand and/or misapply it when they inevitably hear it used by others.

posted Feb 10th, 2010 1:50 pm


T with Honey

Yet again people are getting caught up in the use of a specific word instead of the real message.
I've gotta agree with most of the other comments that using the word "diet" is perfectly in context with Mrs. Obama's message and that it is something entirely different from being "on a diet".

What I'd like to know is why we are putting so much stock into BMI. Body fat percentage is a much better measure. I know quite a few people who have a lot of muscle mass or thicker bone structures and very little body fat yet show up at obese on the BMI chart.

Mrs. Obama's message is on track. Most Americans need to change their diet and get more physically active. Let's look at the whole person and not just some arbitrary numbers.

posted Feb 10th, 2010 11:42 am


angie

I think Michelle was right to attack this issue head on. The girls would have more issues, self esteem and otherwise if they grew up obese. Obesity and obesity related diseases are very prevalent in the black community. It's good that she made an adjustment for the children's health and future.

posted Feb 9th, 2010 10:23 pm


Megan

I agree with the above posters, except SJ. It's easy for people who have never had a hard time maintaining a normal weight to think of obesity as an issue of being poor and/or ignorant. Middle-class families have an easier time affording healthy food, but they do face challenges that can make eating healthy difficult. Most working parents I know find it really hard to eat healthy most of the time when every night, there's this event or that event to hurry off to, not to mention homework. It's great that Mrs. Obama is putting herself out there admitting that her family faced the same struggles that the rest of us do. I do think the president's statement awhile back that Malia was "getting a little chubby" was less tactful and maybe went a bit too far.

posted Feb 9th, 2010 8:51 pm


maris

I don't think she did anything wrong. The world "diet" is different than the phrase "on a diet." Some people have a "diet" that consists of Doritos and pizza. They are definitey not "on a diet." I think this is a case of people reading in between the lines to incite some controversy.

It's sad, but I suppose when you're a public figure like Obama it goes with the territory.

posted Feb 9th, 2010 11:39 am


Claire

I find it sad that commentators add to our ignorance in the use of the English language. Once again, as the first responder mentioned, the word diet has multiple meanings and in the case of diet as Mrs. Obama used it, it means what one eats on the whole. It's too easy to pick one meaning and go with it essentially making the word out of context to try to rile people up. I wish these days that facts were more important than anger and trying to create sides. It just shows how bad our educational system has now been for 30 years or so. Please buy a dictionary.

posted Feb 8th, 2010 8:37 pm


Rob

D. McNeil - I could not agree with you more! Even though I am not a socialist I can't imagine beating up either of the adult obama's over a freaking word just because another one of equal meaning could have been used to make a better point. People need to get away from the 1st lady/Presidents' words, Palins' ink on her palm, and Hilary not being at the State of the Union address. Focus people(!) on their actions, morals, and the friends/associates they keep or get rid of at the drop of a political hat.
P.S. if we are raising children who are harmed by a friggin word like "diet" we WILL cease to have children with the courage and resolve to be our future leaders. Parents and the talking heads who need to keep their opinions/jobs in our face may decide if our (Depresion era) greatest generation will be the last great generation!!

posted Feb 8th, 2010 7:59 pm


sj

When is smoking considered the habit of a healthy person? And, maybe if their mom stayed a home a little more with them they would have the proper attention that would help some in this country give her respect for her statements concerning her children.

posted Feb 8th, 2010 7:54 pm



AbbeyMeyer

I'm glad you brought this up Carmen. I think this situation is rather unfortunate. "Diet", by definition, is the whole of what we eat. We, as a culture, have turned it in to this negative thing. I don't think the Obamas ever had their children "on a diet," I think they changed their "diet," meaning they got rid of junk and introduced more real foods. Look at those girls/that entire family - I think it's inspiring to have four healthy, fit people as the first family. Michelle didn't do anything wrong... I have to believe there is A LOT of verbal communication going on between her and her daughters. It's the lack of that between parents/children that can harm their self esteem.

posted Feb 8th, 2010 12:01 pm


david mcneil

OK, so the word 'diet' is to become the dirty 'D' word. Why dont we just get over ourselves and this retarded political correctness? Ooops. 'Retarded' is also no-no. Sheeesh.

posted Feb 8th, 2010 11:11 am



   
 

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