What Michelle Obama didn't say at the Let's Move press conference

Silhouettes and waist circumferences represent...

This is where the Whopper goes...

Michelle Obama kicked off her “Let’s Move” campaign to end childhood obesity today and she offered the frightening statistics that one in three children today are obese and this generation is on track to have a shorter life span than their parents. (Also, bizarre and frightening, obesity is now one of the most common dis-qualifiers for military service.) Obama cites two major lifestyle changes in the past twenty plus years  – lack of physical activity and fast food being consumed too often  – as the main culprits.

While childhood obesity needs to be addressed and I sincerely hope Mrs. Obama’s campaign has a positive effect on this disturbing trend, I wish she would have called out, by name, the worst offenders that are slowly killing not just our children, but everyone who Super Sizes.

Yes, it’s completely un-American to villify McDonald’s and Coke – but perhaps if the (self-titled) mother-in-chief of America told other mothers and fathers in no uncertain terms to keep the crap out of our kid’s mouths, maybe the message would be received as a positive for families versus a negative for the all-important American business model. How fantastic would it be if everyone suddenly refused to eat food that causes death and disease? Maybe more restaurants would follow Chipotle’s lead and stop cooking with tainted food and food products and use fresh, organic and local meat and vegetables if the first lady started outing the most heinous items on the value menu.

I realize Mrs. Obama would be lambasted if she told people to boycott Burger King; but processed, salty, fatty foods are the things that will kill kids and their parents. Change is hard, changing people’s shopping habits and dining habits are especially difficult. But if we can call out businesses that are profiting at the expense of our children and ourselves maybe we can turn fast food chains and soft drink companies with unhealthy practices into as big of a pariah as the tobacco companies. If Mrs. Obama could accomplish that during her husband’s term (or terms), she would be doing more to alleviate the health care crisis than all of those other people who receive our tax dollars to argue over the public option.

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5 Responses to What Michelle Obama didn't say at the Let's Move press conference

  1. “How fantastic would it be if everyone suddenly refused to eat food that causes death and disease?”

    They’d have to do more than stop going to McDonald’s or Burger King. Ever go food shopping, April? Next time, sidle up to Weeble-shaped family and check out what’s in their cart. Then check out the next and the next. It’s all the same high-carb, high-fat crap. Burger King And Micky D’s and their super-size mania are just the tip of the iceberg. The problem is the parents. Kids can’t eat what mom and dad don’t buy.

    • April Peveteaux says:

      Absolutely. When you can buy a frozen cheese pizza that actually doesn’t contain cheese, that’s a problem.

      However, I chose to focus on fast food for two reasons. One, when you go into a grocery store you don’t have to buy processed foods. Contrary to popular belief, you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables for a reasonable amount of money. You can make a healthy casserole from whole foods without breaking the bank. Rice, beans and other whole grains are a heck of a lot more affordable than a four pack of Swanson dinners. Walk into most fast food restaurants and you have no choice but to buy processed, disease-causing foods. Two, the usual argument for parents feeding their kids at the drive-thru has to do with “not enough time to shop/cook.” If we can actually scare people away from the 99 cent menu and into the stores hopefully an awareness of what chemicals and hormones are going into your child’s body is next.

  2. Facebook User says:

    Great commentary April. I’ve been more than a little freaked out by the food available to the general public for more than a little while. Kids are so far removed from the sources of their food they don’t know that beef, chicken and pork are actual animals. Everything to them comes with the prerequisite styrofoam. It’s a sad state of affairs. I think if everyone was a little better informed at a much younger age things could change. But kids have to see that good food can actually be cooked at home and need to learn how to cook as well. I’m beginning to think that cooking may become a lost art. Eat local, eat fresh, learn to cook.

  3. loislane says:

    April: What you are suggesting is well-meaning, but way too simplistic nutritionally.

    Chipotle has good ingredients, but serving sizes are huge and can easily provide a day’s worth of calories for a child–or an adult. Organic food doesn’t offer any protection against childhood obesity. it comes down to a simple equation: calories in versus calories out. We’re all eating too much and not getting enough activity. (OK, the exceptions are our Olympic athletes.)

    Also, give Mickey D’s and BK a little credit for introducing edamame and veggie burgers, respectively, to many middle Americans who had never before encountered those foods.

    Don’t fall into the trap, either, of thinking that only fresh fruit and vegetables are any good. There’s clear evidence to show that frozen, canned (without huge amounts of sugar or sodium) as well as dried match the nutrient content of fresh–and can provide convenience and longer shelf-life, sometimes at a better price. There’s no one answer to our obesity problems. If there were, we wouldn’t be in the fix we are in.

    • April Peveteaux says:

      Loislane,

      I’m not advocating everyone start dining at Chipotle, I was using the fast food chain as an example of better practices. Natural foods vs. processed is simply better for everyone. Fast food chains are not going away, but it would be fantastic if someone (Michelle???) would point out the worst offenders on the fast food menus.

      Chipotle, unlike, McDonald’s and friends, don’t add chemicals to their food that cause disease. They also don’t get their meats from a factory where ammonia has to be added to your food in order to kill bacteria. Keeping ammonia out of our children’s mouths is a good idea.

      One comment Michelle Obama made that was on my mind (perhaps I should have highlighted in my original article) was that we’re not talking about how kids look, it’s how they feel. Being healthy is the priority, obesity is part of it and so is preventing disease by eating whole, healthy foods with no chemicals added. If they’re fresh or fresh flash frozen, it’s all good and good for you.

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