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Michelle Obama Announces Calorie-Cutting Initiative

In a live press conference First Lady Michelle Obama discussed an exciting announcement in regards to the ‘Let’s Move‘ campaign and the ‘Partnership for a Healthier America’ who have begun to seek a solution to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity. The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, comprised of 16 food companies, have pledged to cut one trillion calories from the food they sell, and change products to reduce calories, fat, sugar, sodium and portion size.

The four main pillars of the Let’s Move program are to make schools healthier, increase the amount of physical activity children get at school and at home, give parents the information to make healthy decisions, and increase access to food for all families.

It seems one major component the plan lacks is nutrition education for the children. You can teach a parent, a school, or a food company how to help backtrack the obesity epidemic, but shouldn’t the “victims” be targeted for education too? If children are given a choice in the foods they eat, and explained to why things are “good” or “bad” rather than just that they are simply labeled, they will have the necessary information to make informed decisions.  Throughout life, people are told what to do and how to do it, but without an explanation. Why do something? How will it benefit you and make you healthier? With this information it seems one would have the motivation to follow through with health suggestions.

Additionally, there is the myth, constantly perpetuated, that a healthy lifestyle is time consuming. In the address, the First Lady said the following:

“Now, we all know how important it is to eat less sugar and fat and more fruits and  vegetables and whole grains. But we also know that sometimes it’s just easier to grab something quick and easy at the market.”

The comment that it’s easier to grab something from the market is only partially true. The many misconceptions about time and health are tossed about. Eating healthy is not time consuming. And, even if it isn’t instantaneous in terms of preparation, you are saving time, money, and effort in the long run by providing yourself and your family solid nutrition to keep illness at bay. While microwaving a frozen meal is easy, it’s equally easy to toss lettuce into a dish and sprinkle with leftover chicken from last night. If cooking is truly not an option, opt for the multitude of salad bars found in most grocery stores and pick nutritious options, like a bed of lettuce with chopped fruits and a balsamic dressing.

Cost is another issue. How do we make healthy food more affordable? How can we drive down the cost of highly nutritious healthy food so it can compete with less healthy foods and foods with little nutrition for the calories? Dr. Oz recently showed on TV how several healthy foods were under $1 per serving (quinoa, Greek yogurt, sugar snap peas, and fruit). One of his “wellness warriors” blogged about it too.

This recent announcement that certain food companies have pledged to cut calories, sugar, and sodium is long overdue, but only a small step.  The pledge will cut the one trillion calories from food products by 2012 and 1.5 trillion calories by the year 2015. Creating healthier processed foods is a good move, as inevitably people will opt for them. But the best solution would be to have people move away from processed foods towards fresh produce.

May 24th, 2010

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