Michelle Obama’s Initial Doubts About Fighting Childhood Obesity


Just in case you’re not a regular reader of the journal “Childhood Obesity,” FLOTUS — The First Lady of the United States — has written the foreword to this month’s edition. She begins with her initial doubts about whether progress fighting children’s obesity was possible:

When I first decided to focus on the issue of childhood obesity, I wondered whether it was really possible to make a difference. I knew the conventional wisdom on this issue —- particularly when it comes to changing how and what our kids eat. There’s the assumption that kids don’t like healthy food, so why try to feed it to them? There’s the belief that healthy food doesn’t sell as well, so companies will never change the products they offer. There’s the sense that this problem is so big, and so entrenched, that no matter what we do, we’ll never be able to solve it.

Now, she writes, she’s thrilled to report that “We have begun to change the conversation about childhood obesity in America.”

I know, I know, it’s political and there’s a very, very long way to go to reverse the current wave of childhood obesity. But I’m a sucker for good news, and she offers a nice roundup of some:

For example, major food manufacturers are cutting sugar, salt, and fat from their products. Restaurants are revamping their kids’ menus, loading them up with fresher, healthier options. Companies like Walgreens, superValu, Walmart, and Calhoun’s Grocery are com- mitting to build or expand 1500 stores and sell fresh food in underserved communities across this country. Retail- ers are working to lower the cost of fruits, vegetables, and healthy options. Congress passed historic legislation to provide more nutritious school meals to millions of American children. schools are growing gardens. More than 1000 salad bars have been added to school caf- eterias. Cities and towns are opening farmers’ markets. Congregations are holding summer nutrition programs for kids. Medical professionals are screening children for obesity and teaching parents how to address it. Con- sumers have a new icon, MyPlate, to help make healthy choices for their families. Parents are reading those food labels and rethinking the meals and snacks they serve to their kids.

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  • Anonymous

    I would like to recommend the free NAAFA Child Advocacy ToolkitSM (CATK) and other written guidelines/resources to assist you looking at programs.
    A Yale Rudd Center report reviewed existing research on weight stigma in children and adolescents, with attention to the nature and extent of weight bias toward obese youths and to the primary sources of stigma in their lives, including peers, educators, and parents. As a result of weight bias and discrimination, obese children suffer psychological, social, and health-related consequences. http://www.yaleruddcenter.org/resources/upload/docs/what/bias/StigmaObesityChildrensHealth.pdf
    Rebecca Puhl of the Rudd Center further brings to light the stigmatization of large children in the following article.
    The NAAFA Child Advocacy Toolkit shows how Health At Every Size® takes the focus off weight and directs it to healthful eating and enjoyable movement. It addresses the bullying, building positive self-image and eliminating stigmatization of large children. The CATK lists resources available to parents, educators or caregivers for educational materials, curriculum and programming that is beneficial for all children. It can be found at:

  • ellbee

    She’s so awesome in so many ways! I love that she’s working on an issue that is a bit challenging an bringing it to everyone’s attention, and not taking the easy way out + choosing a cause that has been done before.

  • http://twitter.com/SusanKarcz Susan Karcz

    I love how Michelle O just dove in despite her misgivings. It’s easy to ignore the overwhelming, but this is a problem worth making even a small difference in.