SparkPeople Blogs  •  news  •  obesity

The First Lady's Anti-Obesity Campaign: One Year Later

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Michelle Obama knew that taking on the challenge of childhood obesity would be no easy task. One year ago she launched "Let's Move!", a campaign to help fight obesity in young people. She has been help raising awareness for what kind of future our country has if we don't start reversing the trend and focusing on good health and regular activity. Has the program made progress in the past year? In some ways, "yes". In some ways, it might be too early to know.

Childhood obesity is a complicated problem with no easy fix. It's not as simple as removing all soda machines from schools or replacing French fries with fruit in a Happy Meal. Those things can certainly help, but they aren't enough. Childhood obesity is impacted by so many factors, including a child's home life, school life, social life and more. Making a significant change is going to take time and support from a variety of sources.

Mrs. Obama has been speaking to groups around the country, urging cities to build more parks and playgrounds, urging food makers to make healthy changes to the products they sell, urging schools to offer more healthy lunches, and more. She's gotten commitments from food makers like Walmart to make healthy changes to the products they sell. "Walmart promised to reformulate thousands of its store-brand products to reduce sodium, sugar and fat, and push its suppliers to do the same. The company also pledged to cut fresh fruit and vegetable prices, build stores in areas without grocers and develop a logo for products that meet its health criteria. Walmart's grocery business accounts for about 15 percent of the U.S. grocery industry."

Critics say food and beverage makers have made these commitments in the past, but not much ever comes from it. Only time will tell if these promises will become permanent and positive changes. Personally, I think a program like this can only put more of a spotlight on an important issue. So many people expect overnight success when a program like this launches, but I think it's important to be realistic. This is a big issue thatís going to take time to change.

What do you think?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
See more: news obesity children


I think the part of the problem stems from parents not taking on the responsibility of literally "growing children". Children need proper fertilizer and watering, just like a garden. It takes planning, hard work, and some sweat equity to get a good harvest. Children represent the best crop that you can grow! It is worth it. No short cuts. Report
The problem is the processed foods. Take the time to cook as much as possible from scratch. Make your kids go outside and play. The answer is simple, but it will take an effort from everyone!

Also Physical Education needs to be a DAILY part of school. My child's school only allows it for 3 times a week. Recess should be a daily part of the school day as well. (I know most teachers attempt to incorporate this, but sometimes with the "pro-testing nature" of our schools nowadays, teachers are afraid to take too much time away from instruction.) While I do not blame the entire problem on schools, as a teacher I do think there are things we could do better to ensure that children are getting the best out of life. With so much of our children's lives being spent sitting on their bottoms, it should be an integral part of school to make sure the kids get up and move, that they are educated about their bodies and how to maintain them, and how to make healthy choices. School lunches should be healthy, and not just processed food choices. In most cafeterias there is very little actual food preparation and cooking going on, just the heating of processed, unhealthy foods. It needs to change, but it's going to take a bunch of us "sheeple" standing up and demanding it.

BTW...Jamie Oliver had a petition online to present to the President demanding the overhaul of what schools are feeding our children. It's on his website. Check it out. Report
I don't think fat is the problem.. I struggle to get near what i am supposed to eat in fat gms as I think a lot of ppl do becuz of the AMA... carbs are the problem.. I love the idea the First Lady has.. things learned as children will stick with you for life

I am really worried about kids today.. i manage a pizzeria.. and see 200 lb children all the time.. one woman asked ME how to get her child to lose weight.. I told her.. don't eat here .. take him to Subway or something

I thought we ate worse as kids growing up in the 80's.. no one paid attention to calories, or fat even... but all of us kids had ribs sticking out.. we played outside 8 hours a day.. might get 1-2 hours of TV.. video games were just getting started.. I must have rode my bike 20 miles a day,, and we used to race each other for fun.. lol.. for FUN!

I have a heart problem, and am diabetic @37( no meds anymore,since i lost 100 lbs)... and I was healthy as a child.. these obese children will be getting diabetes in their teens, dying in their 30's/40' is amazing that we took so long to notice... kudos to Michelle obama Report
Well, Elle....I was born in 1938 & I don't think we even worried about getting fat. If you were a baby & were're cute! If you were a teenager...she'll grow out of it! If you were a woman, you were "pleasingly plump."! Oddly, one of the thinnest women I ever knew had a heart attack, but another who was really heavy all her llife lived to be nearly 100. wwith all that lard & solid shortening: let's not even go there! Report
Born in 1955, I grew up at the dawn of TV marketing and convenience foods. At our school lunch table everyone had pretty much the same lunch (you couldn't buy lunch at school then!) - a sandwich on Sunbeam or Wonder White Bread (usually pb&J or lunch meat), a bag of some kind of chip, and a packaged dessert like a Lil' Debi (hostess fruit pies were my favorite). This food was loaded with saturated fat and sugar. At dinner we usually had some kind of meat (I fondly remember overly dry pork chops), a canned veggie, some white bread with stick margarine, and mashed potatoes. Talk about a nutritious meal! And top it off with dessert, usually a jello pudding from a box.
Not much fiber, fresh fruit or veggies, and no thought to fat content. Yet in my class of 36 kids, only one child was what we called "fat" back then. she was probably 15 pounds overweight!
So what's the deal with kids today??
I believe 3 factors come into play here:
1: we hardly snacked. When we came home from school, we usually had two cookies and a small glass of milk (again, great nutrition!) But it was TWO cookies - no more. And nothing then til dinner. After the meal was over, there was no more eating in front of the TV or anywhere else. No Grazing!
2: No Fast Food -- it wasn't an option - we didn't have any in our town. McDonald's was still counting their burgers in the "thousands served"
3: We played... and we played and we played!! The world was a safer place (or our parents thought it was) and we were free to roam as we wanted. We rode bikes everywhere - I don't recall EVER being in a friend's parents' car for a ride! Parents believed if you needed to get somewhere, you rode your bike. Course we didn't have gymnastics lessons, karate, all those other places requiring driving.
Childhood obesity is a very serious problem. I applaud the First Lady for getting involved. Every step forward counts. I especially think we need more opportunities for kids to play! Report
I'm very happy with her focusing on health and childhood obesity. Report
She is to be commended for taking up this cause. I do not understand people criticizing her for taking up an issue that is so critical to the health of our nation. Go for it Michelle! Report
Teaching kids to eat healthy starts before they are 3. their tastes buds change but they will gravitate to what Mom & Dad and grandparents eat. Parents have to take a bigger job in helping our young people learn to eat healthy foods! Report
I am thrilled with both Michelle's hard work tackling the issue of childhood obesity and Barack Obama's choice to give up smoking for the past year. President Obama's biography shows the amazing story of how a person can really make the choice to turn his or her life around even when them make earlier unhealthy choices. Michelle's working alongside of schoolchildren to plant the White House's first organic vegetable garden has been great for the children involved as well as for the First Family's eating and for the food served at White House dinners. She is a great spokesperson for healthy eating and the importance of parents guiding their children. Report
i am a retired school teacher and can't see that the change in school lunches has helped.

now we serve them healthy foods but if you could take time one day to visit a school during lunchtime, you would see that the food just gets dumped in the garbage.

then the kids go home hungry to their old foods and fats and fast food.

it is one thing to offer healthy foods but another to cook them in such a way that the kids will like and eat them.

go visit a school for yourself and see. i wish that mrs. obama would send people to several schools nationwide, they would see exactly what i am talking about.

It is important to check back and transparently report on progress made, but it shouldn't only be Michelle Obama that is responsible for making change happen. This is, indeed, a national problem, and achveiving progress should be the responsibility of all levels of government.
I know that SparkPeople was evaluating what role it could play to help... Has SP been able to find a suitable role to be part of the equation? Report
If you ask me obesity should be our #1 national health concern. As a nation we talk a lot about healthcare and insurance but why aren't we talking more about disease prevention? Put exercise back in the schools and take the vending machines out! Report
I don't understand why there are so many people who believe this is a political issue. mrs. Obama is simply shedding light on a problem that too many people ignore. We sparkers may be enlightened because we are all in the prusuit of better health, but there are many who are not. I don't see how this program can be viewed as the government telling you how to raise your kids. These are suggestions to help our youth be healthier. Anyone who wishes to remain in denial and continue to feed their child unhealthy food is more than welcome to do so. I personally believethat this is a good effort on Mrs. Obama's part Report
Change is necessary and every little baby step in the right direction will help. Each person and parent must want a healthier lifestyle or no amount of changing the food is going to matter. Report
Of course it's going to take time, but it's a start. Anything new begins with changing things a little at a time. This is what gets successful results. I think the idea is wonderful and that it will work given time, awareness, and effort from most. Regardless to how you feel about Mrs. Obama husband, this article is about her and her efforts to make things better for us and our children... Report
I may not have voted for Obama and dont like alot of things he has done since to get our country in a worst situation it already was in, but Michelle Obama is doing a wonderful job about child obesity and helping our youth to be in better health for their adult lives that they will go into. One thing though is the parents need to be a big part of this for their childrens future. Thanks Mrs. Obama ! Report
Michele Obama is a great role model for children. Hopefully her efforts will pay off.
Healthy habits are taught at home,it begins with the parents. Who is in charge, the parents or the kids? Parents have to set the example. Report
I glad she is pushing this. I know it's an uphill battle. My sister-in-law used to complain that it was so hard to feed her 4 boys healthy. She could buy chips and cookies for less than half of what fresh fruit and vegetables cost.

Unfortunately, kids today don't get as much exercise, either. With video games and drug dealers and pedofiles etc., kids are not as likely to ride their bikes around the city or go to the park for hours on end like we used to do. Most parents have to take their kids to parks for safety and they don't always have much time to do that. Report
The Safeway stores in my area have started to put little cards on products that meet certain health criteria. For example, "low-fat", "low-sodium", "gluten-free", "high fiber", etc. That's a nice way to catch our eye as we go through the aisles. Good for them! Report
I am a Registered Nurse. I am currently working on a project to bring to kids aged 6 to 11, reinforcing what is taught to them in school about healthy eating and physical activity. My project is in alignment with Mrs. Obama's Lets Move! project. The biggest problem I have is the same one the kids have - their parents. I don't know how to get them on board. Too busy to eat right, and too busy to feed their family's right; no time for physical activity. Oh, boy.... Report
Why does no group or company or magazine ever really mention the ADDICTION factor in what we all eat, or want to eat, or choose to eat?? It ain't the store's fault, they sell what people buy. No amount of forcing restaurants to post calorie counts or food items to be labeled in the front will help, it isn't the not knowing that info that makes people eat unhealthy food. And it isn't really hunger, it's addiction. I know we can't all go to rehab, either. But the higher ups need to get a grip on this factor in obesity. Report
It is going to take time. The parents especially have to change as well. I think it is horrible with all the commercials around us advertising unhealthy eats and portions. We all have to set an example for the kids. Report
God bless Michelle Obama and her involvement with the well being of our children and grandchildren. They are the future. Report
Anything that raises awareness of the damage we are doing to ourselves by being obese is a good thing. Actually getting people to put it into practice is going to take time and further education, and most importantly at a family level. Report
Good examples need to come from the top, and where better than Mrs Obama - the UK could do worse than look to follow her lead. Way to go Mrs 'O'!! Report
I'm thinking that if Sparkpeople wanted to avoid article comments becoming political, it might be a good idea to avoid discussions about those in politics. Any discussion regarding people in our government, whether national or local, and their plans/beliefs/decisions/ideas will have those who support it, and those who do not. It's not being a bad Sparker to have an opinion, especially when the article specifically asks for and ends with "What do you think?" Report
This is NOT a political site folks .... good nutrition for our children and teaching them to eat right and be active .... Let's be SparkPeople and support these folks trying to help us and our children. Someone needed to get healthy routines back in the daily picture. Report
This thread is just an example of how some people will take well-intentioned information and turn into some sort of personal affront. You may be the picture of health and have a wealth of nutrition information, but don't mistake your life as being everyone else's life. There are plenty of people that don't know these things. When I have people tell me that fried fish is healthy because it's fish, then that means that this information is still relevant and needs to be talked about. If it's not relevant or news to you, that's great, one less person that needs to be educated. I figured everyone is here at Spark People because they were open to learning and sharing, but maybe they are just here to tell us how they already know everything and don't need to be told anything. Report
To be completely honest and upfront, I am not at all in agreement with the president's agenda, but as far as the "Let's Move" campaign of the First Lady I really don't find what she has been saying all that wrong or interfering in our lives. We do need to eat more wisely and healthy. We all need to move more.
Where does it hurt for someone with some pull to say that our foods are being corrupted with additives? Why shouldn't someone with a voice be able to suggest better alternatives on a menu? If they have merit and people want them perhaps they can be worked into the menu. I have often wished that restaurants (fast or otherwise) would have a questionaire or suggestion box that would allow suggestions. My kids were older when they started the apple slices, but they get them for their kids!
Unfortunatlely many parents are so busy working and many have just given in to fast food places as it is fast food and easier than doing all that shopping. Many just do the easy thing for themselves and give in to the kids if they yell about wanting a kid's meal or whatever at least they can make a few more healthy choices now (but those came before Let's Move).

I feel that the schools should get back to teaching our kids about health in science and health classes because if they don't know what makes them healthy and how to stay that way how can they pass that on to their kids?
Our education system has perhaps dropped the ball in teaching healthy eating. I was fortunate to have a nurse for a mother and great teachers and classes that taught nutrition and boy did the cafeteria have great meals, Thanks Mrs. Brown! (long before the government had their hands all over the regulations.)

As far Walmart, I was there 2 nights ago (it has been a month since my last visit). One thing has changed in their set up, can't say if the specific food products have changed formulation, but the first 2 rows after the produce are NOW candy, cookies, and junk!

I do wish people would stop picking on the First Lady's project. Though some things said may "seem" interfering, we still have a choice. So let's make them informed choices. Just don't legislate it. Report
BTW, I am thankful that healthy living is become of public interest. If we take care of our bodies now, then maybe, just maybe our quality of lives will be better when we are old. And believe me, I'm getting there fast! Report
I decided to do some quick research when someone started accusing the rich of not paying their fair share of taxes. I checked many sites and the consensus was the following:

What income group pays the most federal income taxes today?

The latest data show that a big portion of the federal income tax burden is shoul≠dered by a small group of the very richest Americans. The wealthiest 1 percent of the population earn 19 per≠cent of the income but pay 37 percent of the income tax. The top 10 percent pay 68 percent of the tab. Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percentóthose below the median income levelónow earn 13 percent of the income but pay just 3 percent of the taxes. These are proportions of the income tax alone and donít include payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare.
As long as this has turned plotical, I will add my two cents worth. If the wealthy people & corporations weren't so greedy & paid their fair share of taxes, instead of putting it all on the middle class & less fortunate, this country would be out of debt pretty quick. Then we would have the money to pay for what we need- (Education, Health care, etc.)
Mrs. Obama's Obesity campaign is a good thing--trying to educate people. Also, President Obama is doing a great job. Heaven forbid if he doesn't get elected again. Report
Time for the First Family to set a good example. Instead of talking the talk, Start walking the walk. It's all talk and NO Action!
Let's try adding an exercise program to the school's curriculum? Report
sorry..for some reason it came through twice!
Let's all work together rather than be so devisive on everything. Report
First ladies have always chosen a "cause" during the tenure of their husbands. Mrs Obama has chosen a cause that affects millions of people. Does it make a difference? People have to start making better choices and demanding that food producers reduce fat, sodium, sugar in their products. Certainly just because she says something doesn't make everyone take notice, but if it changes a few parents and their children who begin living healthier lives, it is certainly worth it. I'm so tired of everyone watching to point fingers at spouses (do this, not that...who is he/she to tell me what to do? stop interferring in my God-given right of choice). If we had all taken responsibility for ourselves and our choices, SparkPeople would be a ghost town. Report
Keep working on it. that is all I can say. Report
I would much rather see both of the Obama's concentrate on how to reduce the outrageous spending this country is seeing, than to hear their opinions of what our children should be eating. I will just be overly relieved to see their term at the White House come to an end. Report
Kudos to Mrs. Obama for starting to raise awareness about this issue. Thank God someone in a position of power wants to help our children before their habits are so deeply ingrained that they cannot pull themselves from the much of eating wrong and weighing too much. Life is hard for fat kids and fat kids become fat adults. Report
I think the most positive thing that has come out of Mrs. Obama's campaign is that she has brought it to the forefront of the news, which means more people are talking about the issue. Report
I think that the First Lady, in all due respect, should keep her eyes and thoughts on her own family, and leave the rest of us to do the best we can for ours. I'm not an idiot, and I didn't spend months on bedrest to bring my son into the world so I could make poor choices for him throughout his life. I'm a good Mother, and I don't need Michelle telling me what I need to do. What nerve. And for those who say that some parents don't know what to feed their kids, that may be so...but please, tell me in the Constitution where it says that the government must teach parents how to feed their children. Please point me to that amendment so I can check it out for myself. Report
Cutting fat, sugar and salt isnt enough. We need to get to a way of live that involves less package products and less preservatives. Our bodies have no idea how to deal with all this genetically and chemically altered food so it stores it as FAT which is making us obese.

Need to support and encourage whole food programs. Report
To be fair, Michelle Obama gave ideas for healthier children, but recognizes that there are times for eating other foods! Even presidential families get to eat out or have special treats. To be fair, there aren't many news outlets that would feature the president's family at their daily meals!

The school I retired from had a healthy kid makeover 5 years ago, serving more fruits and vegetables (besides Reagan's catsup). It's taking longer to serve whole grains, not because kids won't eat them, but because they cost more! Report
Parents need to be educated, and too many still think french fries are a vegetable and can't determine what a portion is and think that fast food is ok because they are in a hurry. Of course I have to wonder sometimes, when, for example the picture for this blog shows a child eating a HUGE bowl of sugar cereal. The portion distortion is very evident and one of the reason there is a crisis...people see this kind of thing on a site that promotes healthy, it must mean that that cereal and the image is OK, right? Report
Please no talk of taxing! One thing we don't need is taxing! And not everyone can afford to join a gym. But maybe more money to schools that do not have soda machines and candybar/chip snack machines. I know most schools back in the 60's and into the 80's didn't have them and we didn't wither and die from the lack. We were happy to have the little 3 oz icecream in chocolate or vanilla flavor. Instead of having taco and pizza bars at the schools how about just a salad bar with a variety of items to add or at least a couple of salads to choose from to have for lunch instead of the mystery meat with potatoes and the other high in starch foods they serve. Gym classes are essential to have in schools. And for those who may be like I was, and physically incapable of doing some of the activities and taking another elective, have those who can't lift weights or run long distances or do gymnastics go and walk the track, or around the gym in bad weather. It still gets the kids to excercise. But more importantly. Health classes should be added back in that talks about getting excercise, eating healthy.

But in the end it comes down to starting our kids into a healthy diet and making sure they get outside and play and not stick them in front of the tv with bowls of cereal, a box of pizza while the parents go to another room to watch their own shows or go out for the night. Today's world is so different from when I was growing up. We could go out and ride our bikes anywhere and everywhere and our parents didn't really worry about whether or not we'd come home, so now we have kids that hide in their houses with tv's and video games keeping them busy instead of going out to play and run around. So its all the more important to have snacks that are healthy in the house for the kids to come home to after school and limit the snacking after meals and before bedtime. Cut back on fastfood meals and take the time to cook. If possible precook a few meals so that on nights time is limited you only have to pull it out of the freezer in the morning and let it thaw in the fridge through the day so its ready to heat up. And most importantly have family meals. Talk and eat meals at the table together. It's easy for the First Lady to do a few promo adds "Urging" us to eat better and our kids to eat and get more excercise to be healthier. The hard part is for us, the parents to slow down and take the time to pay attention to our kids and put them first as our priority above work and fun time. Get them out to parks or even to malls to walk around and get some excercise!! Report
I agree with jaymays - every time we see a pic of the first family they are eating cheeseburgers and ice cream!

Also did anyone see the menu for the White House Super Bowl party

Time to walk the talk - folks!

Want to make a change? Start with yourself!

"Man In The Mirror" - Michael Jackson Report
I think it is getting closer to being on the right track. I still believe the way people eat and what they eat is still a choice, but having the food industry fix/update some of their foods is a wonderful step in helping to make better choices. If people are unaware of how to make better/healthier choices for themselves they are just going to get mad about being forced to do something they don't understand. We are getting there, it's just going to take one day at a time. Report
I am totally baffled by people who have attacked what Mrs. Obama is trying to do because she herself sometimes does not follow her own advice. Haven't most of us here on Spark learned that there is no such thing as "perfect?" That in fact, this journey we are on is about moderation, getting back on the horse after falling off, and not totally depriving ourselves, otherwise we are doomed to failure? She might not be perfect, but she has taken on a problem that will haunt us for decades if it is not addressed. I cheer her attempts, and agree that her progress in this campaign is years away from being able to be measured. At least she is shining a light on the issue and trying to educate people about how to do it better. And hopefully at least some are listening.. Report
Honestly, it all starts with the parents and if no one is educating them, the whole thing is pointless. I also agree with JMAYS831 that Mrs. Obama needs to lead by example in this. Not just with what she is feeding her own children, but with the foods she puts in her own mouth. Report
Companies like Walmart will offer healthier food choices if it's worth their while. Forget the advertising; the profit margin is what counts. There is lots of room for raising awareness and education, but there's also room for government regulation of the food industry, both for their products and their prices. Of course nobody in North America wants to hear this as we have been brainwashed to think of such things as an attack on our freedom. Report
Our First Lady is special. I hope she continues this emphasis for health. Report
Close email sign up
Our best articles, delivered Join the millions of people already subscribed Get a weekly summary of our diet and fitness advice We will never sell, rent or redistribute your email address.

Magic Link Sent!

A magic link was sent to Click on that link to login. The link is only good for 24 hours.