Throughout the president's first term, First Lady Michelle Obama has been a part of many large-scale projects concerning child-obesity like the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act and her “Let's Move!” campaign. While these health-related initiatives have alleviated the problem of child obesity, they have only been minor improvements to address only half the problem. What the First Lady needs to do now is concentrate her attention on getting kids off the couch and out on the field. She has been vocal about it, but has not taken enough action yet.
She must promote hard policy that will make physical activity a regular commitment for children.
The primary duty of the First Lady is to support the president in his endeavors. However, it does not mean that she cannot make change happen. Although Michelle Obama is not handling the day-to-day affairs of government, she does demonstrate strong leadership, industriousness, and active enthusiasm in this social cause. She led a nationwide initiative to end childhood obesity known as “Let's Move!” This organization created legislation known as the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which allowed children to have healthier food options. Because of her efforts, more food coalitions have partnered with schools and businesses across the country to make fresh vegetables more accessible choice for children. Chefs have volunteered to help schools in their community by building healthier school menus. She has convinced thousands of kids to substitute daily servings of junk food with more greens. Michelle Obama has made sustainable and tangible changes in the dietary habits of children, but this is not enough to incentive children to exercise, which plays an integral part to her plan's success.
To put Obama’s efforts in context, the issue of child obesity is still a growing epidemic and has been for quite some time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately nine million children over 6 years of age are still considered obese. Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 20% in 2008. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period.
This does not mean that her policies have not effectively addressed the problem of child obesity. But a healthy lifestyle does not just consist of a well-balanced diet, it requires exercise. It is a dual process. One common policy proposal that can be taken to tackle the problem is to require physical education and advocate for more funding for sports programs in schools.
What Michelle Obama has done is admirable, but her efforts to end childhood obesity have yet to drastically alleviated the problems that the nation faces.
Photo Credit: An Honorable German