First Lady Tackling Childhood Obesity

It’s no secret among those who know me in real life that I’m a liberal Democrat, or that I absolutely adore First Lady Michelle Obama as a career woman, mother, wife, and fitness role model.

She just strikes me as authentic, and authenticity has come to mean a lot to me over the past few years.

And I absolutely love her big cause right now, fighting childhood obesity, because it is an epidemic that has impacted — and will continue to impact – our country, if we don’t take collective action to mitigate it now.

I admit that it was a bit disconcerting that her thin, young daughters were the subject of what sparked her concern on a personal level, something  Marsha at A Weight Lifted discusses in this blog post, “Sasha and Malia on a Diet?”

As Marsha notes,

“…Mrs. Obama’s disclosure was made in concert with the launch of a national campaign against childhood obesity.  So why she made the connection is obvious.  Still, Sasha and Malia are at vulnerable time in their lives, when their bodies, especially Malia’s, may be starting to go through changes of puberty.  Those changes often mean putting on weight in advance of growth, which doesn’t necessarily mean anything negative about their ultimate health or, for that matter, body proportions.  Further, these changes in size at this time of life can be important to good health.

It’s also a time when many young girls start to become more concerned about their appearance, although with our current over-focus on size in this country, studies show much younger girls are already concerned about their body size.  Still, at Green Mountain, we hear stories all the time about how well-intentioned but misguided advice about the need to watch weight from parents and others at this time of life can set girls up for weight struggles for the rest of their lives.”

I think Marsha raises some really good points.

The President and First Lady are great fitness and nutrition role models. Both physically fit (Michelle’s arms are constantly under scrutiny, but it’s because the woman is RIPPED!), they talk about their shared love of fitness and how it makes them feel empowered, making them stronger and happier.

Likewise, they talk about how they eat healthy most of the time, but are human, too, and have also confessed to  giving in to Five Guys hamburgers on occasion, guilt-free. They seem to have a very healthy, balanced approach to eating and exercise — a moderate, happy medium.

And while I whole-heartedly support broad preventative measures that I’m sure she’ll be promoting: encouraging kids to be active, limiting TV/computer time, providing healthy lunches and snacks at school, encouraging more parental involvement, etc — I do recognize the fine line between encouraging healthy living patterns and unintentionally driving a child down an obsessive, destructive  path as they seek a “perfect” figure or get sucked in to the quest for “thindom.”

It’s a scary world out there. The First Lady is broaching an uncomfortable, touchy, taboo subject that must be addressed; we can’t let another generation suffer through diabetes and heart disease and cancer and other illnesses or  conditions that are often weight-related.

Ultimately, the more obese our children are, the more health risks they face, the more health care costs they will incur … and the cycle will continue unless we step in.

I have high hopes that with Michelle Obama at the helm of this war on obesity, she will be able to be a voice of reason among the noise. I don’t see her as a preachy figure at all — but rather a gentle encourager and a positive role model.

And I believe she will serve our country well. Mrs. Obama, for what it’s worth, you have my support!

How about you? What do you think about the war on childhood obesity and the First Lady’s role in fighting childhood obesity?


5 thoughts on “First Lady Tackling Childhood Obesity

  1. I saw Michelle Obama’s speech yesterday about her new plan to fight childhood obesity, but hadn’t heard anything about the Sasha and Malia stuff. I think her plan is wonderful from what I’ve heard so far, it gave me chills to listen to her words!

  2. I actually wrote a blog post myself about this because while I feel it’s a problem, I think the focus isn’t completely in the right areas. One, I feel like to combat our health issues and even obesity, we need to look and reform our food system and how food is processed. If our food wasn’t as processed as it is, many cases of heart disease, diabetes and so forth would be decreased. Easy easy fix. So we might not be able to eat meat as cheaply as we can or junk food, but it shouldn’t be that way anyway.
    Two, I feel like focusing primarily on obesity (just from a food perspective) might not help because eating behaviors are more reflective of the whole person not only physically, but emotionally. Likewise, if you want to promote health (as I feel she does), you have to look at both extremes because if we only focus on obesity, then you’re just going to get more people who might be obsessed with dieting and restricting which isn’t healthy either. It has to be a balance in both combating the problem and in behavior.

    1. Jacquie, she’s been a very big advocate of growing your own produce, etc. — I think you raise a good point though that it goes well beyond just what we eat and how much/little we exercise.

      I do think balance needs to be a part of it. I know I am an emotional eater, so it’s not the food choices so much as how I eat — anxiously — that is the problem.

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