Childhood obesity, and obesity in general, have become a serious issue for the United States and many other countries around the word. The decline in activity and the increase in processed food consumption has led to a lifestyle which makes staying fit and healthy difficult, especially for children. Let’s Move!, the First Lady Michelle Obama’s main platform, was launched three years ago, with the fight against childhood obesity in mind.
The program’s ultimate goal is to end childhood obesity within one generation, and now, as the program moves into its third year, the First Lady has taken her initiative on the road on an anniversary tour.
“We’ve really changed the conversation in this country,” Mrs. Obama said in an interview on Good Morning America. “When we started, there were a lot of people in this country who would have never thought that childhood obesity was a health crisis. But now we’re starting to see some movement on this issue.”
Michelle Obama sets out on tour for ‘Let’s Move!’
The two-day Let’s Move! anniversary tour begins Wednesday, February 27, and Michelle Obama will make her first stop in Clinton, Mississippi, where she will be joined by Rachel Ray to host a cooking competition between school chefs. The main goal is to highlight the nutritional changes to the National School Lunch Program.
The First Lady and Ray “chose to highlight school lunches in Mississippi, which was rated the most obese state in the nation for several years, because the state’s childhood obesity rates have declined by 13 percent among elementary school students in recent years,” the White House said, reported by the official Obama administration food blog, Obama Foodorama.
“Good job Mississippi,” Obama said in her recent interview with Jimmy Fallon. “And that’s what we want—we want to highlight that. Because the Governor and the First Lady of that state, they really stepped up making changes. There’s still work to do but we’re so proud of their accomplishments.”
From Mississippi, the First Lady will then visit her hometown of Chicago for the “Bringing Physical Activity Back to Schools” event where it is rumored she will make an important announcement. A handful of sports celebrities will join Obama at the event, and a “surprise” musical guest is slated to entertain the thousands of teachers and students invited to attend.
After her stop in Chicago, the Let’s Move! anniversary tour will conclude in Springfield, Missouri, where Michelle Obama will address the issues of availability and affordability of quality food products.
“Over the past three years we’ve seen a culture shift. Now people understand this is an issue,” the First Lady said to Fallon. “We’ve got better lunches in the schools, we’ve got companies putting grocery stores in underserved communities, we’ve got our athletes, our Olympians working to get our kids more active.”
Before, during and after the tour, Michelle Obama will be featured in a number of television spots and social media chats to help spread the word about childhood obesity.
About ‘Let’s Move!’
“Thirty years ago, most people led lives that kept them at a healthy weight,” states the introduction to Let’s Move! “Kids walked to and from school every day, ran around at recess, participated in gym class, and played for hours after school before dinner. Meals were home-cooked with reasonable portion sizes and there was always a vegetable on the plate. Eating fast food was rare and snacking between meals was an occasional treat.”
Let’s Move! works in partnership with President Obama’s Task Force on Childhood Obesity, a group put together to review all programs and policies regarding child nutrition and physical activity.
The Task Force focuses on the five primary initiatives of Let’s Start!:
- Promoting a healthy start for children
- Engaging and empowering caregivers
- Healthy food in schools
- Improving the accessibility of healthy, affordable foods
- Increasing physical activity
The initiative indicates childhood obesity rates have tripled in the United States over the past three decades, with approximately one in three children classified as overweight or obese. In African American and Hispanic communities, the numbers are even higher, nearing the 40 percentile rate.
According to the Let’s Move! website, if the problem is not solved soon, one-third of all children born in the year 2000 or after will suffer from diabetes in their lifetimes, and countless others will face issues related to obesity such as high blood pressure, asthma and heart disease.