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article imageMichelle Obama launches childhood obesity campaign

By Chris Dade     Feb 9, 2010 in Health
U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday launched a campaign aimed at ending the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. The campaign is known as Lets Move!
According to the BBC one in three children in the U.S. today is overweight or obese, USA Today putting the figure at 32 percent, or 25 million children or adolescents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided the relevant figures.
And Michelle Obama has acknowledged that when her daughters Malia, 11, and Sasha, eight, were nine and six respectively a pediatrician in Chicago told her that he was concerned at the variations he was seeing in the weight of the two young girls.
USA Today quotes her as saying:I was shocked because my kids looked perfectly fine to me. But I had a wake-up call. I didn't know what to do
When Mrs Obama spoke about her daughters' weight issues at the end of January, at the announcement of the Let's Move! campaign, she attracted considerable criticism for discussing the matter in public, the President himself being criticized too for once referring to Malia as having been a "little chubby".
In an interview with ABC News the First Lady, 46, apparently confessed to a love of fast food, ice cream and cake, adding:We're not talking about a lifestyle that excludes all that. The question is how do we help people balance that out so that they're not facing life-threatening, preventable illnesses, but they're enjoying their food, they're eating their vegetables, they're doing their running and walking and playing and still have time to get a good, fun meal in every once in a while
With obesity reportedly costing the U.S. $147 billion a year in respect of medical bills - in addition a study five years ago suggested that obese children may live two to five years less than their parents - Mrs Obama was present in the Oval Office on Tuesday as her husband President Barack Obama authorized the creation of a task force that will investigate the problems associated with childhood obesity and report its findings in 90 days time.
That task force will be made up of officials from various departments within the U.S. administration and will include the secretaries of health and education.
The Associated Press reports that Mrs Obama has been praised by her husband for her part in a campaign designed to address one of "the most urgent health issues facing the country".
Reportedly focusing on improving the nutrition found in meals provided by schools and ensuring that children in deprived areas are able to access healthier food options, the campaign will also encourage children to be more physically active.
For example the daughters of the President and the First Lady are, says the BBC, not allowed to sit in front of the TV during the week.
Members of the medical profession, sports stars, figures from the media and the entertainment world, and business leaders joined Mrs Obama as she watched her husband sign the memorandum creating the childhood obesity task force.
Suggesting that Lets Move! has some similarities to the anti-smoking campaign the U.S. government initiated in the 1960s USA Today observes that it avoids the complex policy issues that Hillary Clinton encountered as First Lady when trying to tackle health care.
Yet it is touted as more far-reaching than Nancy Reagan's efforts to address the misuse of drugs and Laura Bush's campaign(s) to improve literacy.
More about Obesity, Childhood, Michelle obama
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