First Lady, healthier living

February 17, 2011

With a growing number of the nation’s people facing obesity, First Lady Michelle Obama has expanded her anti-obesity program to promote healthier lifestyles by making better options more available. About a year ago, she launched the exercise program “Let’s Move!” to encourage children to be active and eat healthier in order to promote better habits.

Obama is working to persuade restaurants and food producers to incorporate healthier food portions and ingredients along with easier to read nutrition facts on labels. According to The New York Times, a team of her advisers has been discussing these plans with the National Restaurant Association, a restaurant trade group, for about a year in order to get restaurants to adopt her goals to have smaller meal portions and children’s meals with alternatives to French fries and soda, such as carrots, apple slices and milk. An agreement has yet to be made. However, Obama recently announced an agreement with Walmart to lower prices of fruits and vegetables and to reduce the amount of sugar, fat and salt in its food products. She persuaded Congress to make a requirement for schools to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in the meals they offer and encouraged lawmakers to require restaurants to print nutrition facts on their menus, which was included in President Obama’s health care law.

But, it’s risky business when seeking to partner with industries. Her program has been given positive remarks by nutritionists and public health advocates, but some worry Obama will be deceived by companies that seem willing to incorporate her plans into their industry but won’t actually offer those changes she requests of them.

According to White House officials in the article, Obama believes involving industries in her planning is vital to accomplishing her goal to ultimately eliminate childhood obesity within a generation. President Obama’s domestic policy adviser and the chairwoman of a presidential task force on obesity, Melody Barnes, said Mrs. Obama does not agree to work with any program unless it meets criteria issued in her planning.

“If someone wants her support, we take a hard look at the data and the research to determine if the commitment meets our standards,” Barnes said. “And, if the result is good for business as well as for the health of American children, we see that as a win-win.”

The Tech Talk editorial staff believes Michelle Obama’s initiatives toward healthier lifestyles are commendable but that it still comes down to personal choice when deciding how much food to eat. However, some are divided on whether or not she is interfering with the way companies run their businesses. The staff believes efforts to encourage healthier eating and exercise among children may help lower obesity rates among the youth of the nation among other consumers, especially if better food is made more affordable because junk food is cheaper and more widely available. If food labels are made easier to read, then people might be more aware of what they are eating. People need to be encouraged in the right direction for better eating and exercise, and Obama’s efforts through her “Let’s Move!” program may be the source of encouragement some people need to live better lifestyles and influence their children to be healthier, too.