Michelle Obama’s Childhood Obesity Legacy

Beyonce - bercy 2009Childhood Obesity News has been looking at various aspects of Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move! project, which rests on four basic notions:
1. Parents need to be educated and empowered.
2. Schools need to do their best to bring in nourishing food and keep junk food out.
3. There are food deserts throughout the country, and something needs to be done about them.
4. Everybody needs more physical activity, especially kids.

Various supporters concentrate on different parts of the program, and some have definite ideas of their own. Former Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona, for instance, is strictly a more-physical-activity kind of guy. The STOP Obesity Alliance holds that exercise is the key to fighting obesity. But it’s not a blind faith. The organization is very interested in finding better ways to track whether weight loss programs work. You’d think this would be obvious to everyone, but they also want to see doctors and others in the medical field much better trained in how to approach the subject of obesity with patients, how to make referrals, and how to get people to be more physically active. Strangely, their recommendations don’t say anything about nutrition or diet.

In June, a school in Corvallis, Oregon, made news with the surprise sprung on the 4th and 5th grade students by P.E. teacher Annie Carson. She taught the kids a dance that included jumping and running, and after the 120 children performed the routine, 20 teachers and staff members made their own “flash mob” move, doing the same dance routine. The music was “Move Your Body,” and journalist Raju Woodward said:

Carson organized the dancing as part of the Lets Move! campaign started by Michelle Obama to help fight childhood obesity. Superstar singer Beyonce recorded ‘Move Your Body’ — and choreographed the dance — as part of the campaign.

The lively video, featuring Beyonce and a school cafeteria full of kids, was released last year. Another kind of video production was in the news just last month when Michelle Obama announced the winners of a competition sponsored by Let’s Move!, whose winners will be invited to visit the White House. Mary MacVean of the LA Times tells us:

The first-prize went to Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Eatonville, Fla. Macedonia Missionary’s video ‘Fit With Faith’ shows exercising in a program that takes a multigenerational approach. That video and all the winners of the Let’s Move Communities on the Move video challenge can be seen on the program’s website.

We have explored the First Lady’s connection with video games which, although they are supposed to be a bad thing because kids sit around playing them and get fat, can also be used for better purposes. For instance, there apparently is a whole genre of video games that challenge kids to become more physically active.

Not everyone is happy with the the official Let’s Move! public relations efforts. Jeffery Seglin makes a case against one of the public service announcements, in which a mother tricks her daughter, who wants a dollar, into running all over the house to look for the mother’s purse. He perceives this as sending the wrong message:

In the scheme of things, it may not seem a big deal. But while we’re trying to get parents to instill good eating habits in their children, wouldn’t it make sense to suggest they do so without lying to their kids? A small lie, perhaps, but a lie nonetheless and one that suggests to the kid that it might be appropriate to use a similar tactic… It shouldn’t take a good parent much effort to find ways to keep their kids active without resorting to lies to get them to do so.

Is Seglin right? Or just lacking a sense of humor?

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Group: Doctors’ Input on Weight, Exercise Key to Fighting Obesity,” National Journal, 06/16/11
Source: “Dancing their way into summer,” Corvallis Gazette-Times, 06/17/11
Source: “First lady announces ‘Let’s Move’ video winners,” LA Times, 07/12/12
Source: “Let’s Move! but let’s do it with honesty,” LFPress.com, 08/19/11
Image by oouinouin.

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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