First Lady Launches Childhood Obesity Push With Nod to Biking & Walking
First Lady Michelle Obama took to the mikes this afternoon to kick
off a national campaign to combat childhood obesity, emphasizing new
initiatives to promote biking and walking alongside a strong focus on
healthier food options in schools.
"Sesame Street" last fall as part of her push to fight childhood
obesity. (Photo: NYDN)
Mrs. Obama appeared with six Cabinet members, the Surgeon General,
and several lawmakers and mayors to mark the president’s official
creation of a new Task Force on Childhood Obesity. As part of the first
lady’s new effort, the White House plans to expand the President’s
Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, while setting up a Safe and
Healthy Schools Fund during hte next reauthorization of federal
elementary education law.
In her remarks to the press this afternoon, Mrs. Obama paid
particular attention to the lifestyle shifts that have led many kids to a
more sedentary routine — and helped contribute to obesity rates of 17
percent for children and teens, according to the Journal of the American
Medical Association. (The same study
found that one of every three U.S. kids are oversight.)
The first lady said:
In my home, we weren’t rich. The foods we ate weren’t fancy. But
there was always a vegetable on the plate. And we managed to lead a
pretty healthy life.
Many kids today aren’t so fortunate. Urban
sprawl and fears about safety often mean the only walking they do
is out their front door to a bus or a car. Cuts in recess and gym mean
a lot less running around during the school day, and lunchtime may mean
a school lunch heavy on calories and fat. For many kids, those
afternoons spent riding bikes and playing ball until dusk have been
replaced by afternoons inside with TV, the Internet, and video games.
Mrs. Obama highlighted the presidential budget proposal
for $400 million in financing to develop supermarkets and farmers’
markets in neighborhoods that currently lack a walkable healthy food
option, but she did not directly mention Safe Routes to School, the
federal program that helps carve out local routes for children to bike
and walk from home to class every day.