Michelle Obama recently wrote a cover story for Newsweek, "Why I'm Fighting Childhood Obesity," where she explained her intentions with her new Let's Move campaign:
And let's be honest with ourselves: our kids didn't do this to themselves. Our kids don't decide what's served in the school cafeteria or whether there's time for gym class or recess. Our kids don't choose to make food products with tons of sugar and sodium in supersize portions, and then have those products marketed to them everywhere they turn. And no matter how much they beg for fast food and candy, our kids shouldn't be the ones calling the shots at dinnertime. We're in charge. We make these decisions.That's actually the good news—that we can decide to solve this problem. That's why we started Let's Move, a nationwide campaign with a single goal: to solve the problem of childhood obesity in a generation, so that children born today can reach adulthood at a healthy weight.
This sounds pretty reasonable to me, but I'm not surprised by the pushback she has received in some circles. In What Michelle Obama's childhood obesity project gets wrong, Kate Harding argues in Salon that the first lady's campaign is "90 percent terrific" but fears that the other 10 percent will end up "whipping up fear and disgust of the very fat children you're supposedly trying to help." I happen to think 90/10 is a pretty good ratio. No initiative will satisfy every person and every group with different agenda, but this campaign is a step in the right direction.
Meanwhile, what are food companies doing about childhood obesity? Noted nutritionist and author Marion Nestle finds that "companies are falling all over themselves – and with much fanfare – to tweak their products."