First Lady has lofty but necessary goals
In late February, America swept the Olympics by taking gold in almost every category. We wiped out Canada and left France trailing behind. Sweden had nothing on us. U-S-A! U-S-A!
But the competition wasn't measuring speed on the half-pipe or grace of figure skating movements. Instead, the Couch Potato Olympics, which analyzed health-related statistics for 24 industrialized nations, awarded the top prize to the U.S. in calories consumed, TV watched, aversion to playing sports and Internet use. Congratulations fellow Americans - we're number one!
In this context, it becomes even more apparent how much this country needs Michelle Obama's childhood obesity campaign. The "Let's Move" initiative, which President Obama began in February, aims to improve access to healthful food and encourage exercise for children. Just last week the First Lady revealed the results of the project's Task Force on Childhood Obesity. It was an impressive show of solidarity ï¿½ top government officials standing shoulder-to-shoulder behind the First Lady as she outlined the recommendations in the study, including standardizing nutrition labels, requiring physical education in schools and publicizing healthy food with cartoons, among other suggestions.
What makes the First Lady's project significant is how closely it resonates with all Americans. Thirty-four percent of Americans 20 years of age and older are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Moreover, the prevalence of obesity in children ages two to four in 2008 was 14.6 percent. That children so young can already face a lifetime of health complications is sobering and sheds light on the importance of Obama's initiative.
Some aspects of the program are commendable, especially in the D.C. area. It is widely acknowledged that the east side of D.C. is a so-called "food desert," a district with little or no access to healthy foods. According to a recent Rand study, the east side of D.C. has many neighborhoods without a single grocery store; it also has a lower rate of parks and fields compared to the rest of the city. With high crime rates, children stay in and watch TV or play video games instead of going outdoors.
Deepa Chellappa. The high point of Deepa's life thus far occurred when she waved to Mickey Mouse at a Disney World parade and he blew her a kiss in return. Needless to say, she hates Minnie with a passion. In her free time, Deepa can be found ... More »