Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity: Applause!
I had best comment on this before anyone asks. First Lady Michelle Obama wants to do something about childhood obesity and has gone into action. She announced her “Let’s Move” initiatives accompanied by much fanfare. Check out:
This is big news. I see much to admire here. The campaign focuses on kids. It is sensitive to political realities (it’s called the uncontroversial “Let’s Move,” not the inflammatory “Let’s Eat Less” or “Let’s Eat Better”). It’s brought a large number of groups on board (the New York Times account emphasizes this point). It aims to do something useful about school food and food “deserts” (areas without grocery stores). And it derives directly and explicitly from the White House garden.
I wasn’t able to watch the press conference but I hear that Will Allen was an invited speaker. Allen is the charismatic and highly effective head of Growing Power, which runs urban farms in Milwaukee and Chicago. I’m told he said:
- It’s a social justice issue.
- Every child in this country should have access to good food.
- We have to grow farmers.
Before the announcement, Marian Burros wrote in Politico.com about the barriers this effort will face (I’m quoted in her article). And the Los Angeles Times discussed the enormous and enormously successful lobbying effort undertaken by the soft drink industry against soda taxes. It predicted that the First Lady would not mention soda taxes when she announced her obesity campaign. Indeed, she did not.
The truth is our kids didn’t do this to themselves. Our kids didn’t choose to make food products with tons of fat and sugar and supersize portions, and then to have those foods marketed to them wherever they turn.
So let’s call this campaign a good first step and give it a big round of applause. I hoping everyone will give it a chance, help move it forward in every way possible, and keep fingers crossed that Mrs. Obama can pull it off.