Monday, December 27, 2010

Why the Opposition to Michelle Obama on Child Obesity?

Writing in the Washington Post, Fred Hiatt laments the opposition to Michelle Obama's efforts to reduce child obesity:
The obesity epidemic is a genuine public health emergency, with vast implications for the nation's well-being, economy and even national security. And yet, could anyone really be against children eating healthier food and getting more exercise? Could anyone really object to White House assistant chef Sam Kass trying to interest Elmo in a vegetable-laden burrito?

Well, yes, if Michelle Obama is for it, someone will be against it. Someone like Glenn Beck, for example,
who was moved to rail against carrot sticks, or Sarah Palin, who warned that Obama wants to deprive us all of dessert.
And as Hiatt points out, the First Lady isn't pushing for more government programs:
Insinuations from her critics notwithstanding, Obama has not endorsed nanny-state or controversial remedies such as ending sugar subsidies, imposing soda-pop taxes or zoning McDonald's out of certain neighborhoods. Instead, she is pushing for positive, voluntary change: more recess and physical activity, more playgrounds, more vegetable gardens, fresher food in schools and grocery stores, better education on the issue for parents and children.

All of this makes total sense, and historians will marvel (much as they will at climate-change deniers) that anyone could doubt it.
This report from has plenty of alarming statistics on childhood obesity:
More than two-thirds of states (38) now have adult obesity rates above 25 percent. Eight states have rates above 30 percent – Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent. In 1980, the national average of obese adults was 15 percent.
Of course obesity creates serious lifelong health problems for children. According to the report, obese children are twice as likely to die before age 55 compared to healthy weight children. More than 80 million Americans now have type 2 diabetes or a pre-diabetic condition.

Were this any other condition, we would be hearing a lot more about a public health crisis. And yet, when Michelle Obama raises the issue, she gets ridiculed by Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The descent of conservatism into a fantasy world is complete. It has now devolved to the point where the following proposition is accepted as true by a majority:

Access to adequate healthcare is *not* a fundamental right, but access to desert is.

9:50 AM, January 04, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this article. There is also support for a program called "Farm-To-School". It is a national movement and also supported by Obama. It is also pushing for individual state programs, where many states are forming boards, focus groups, and/or partnering with community coalitions. Delaware is trying but we aren't quite there yet. Could use more articles like these to bring light to the subject. We have formed an advisory board but it is slow moving. Many schools already participate but we need to get support to the farmers as well to supply local school cafeterias!!!!

2:25 PM, March 01, 2011  

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