More Obama Evaluation

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Whether or not she serves a second term, Michelle Obama must be acknowledged as one of the most dynamic First Ladies ever. Attention has been focused on the childhood obesity epidemic, along with a great expenditure of money and energy. About whether any of it is doing any good, opinions differ. The Huffington Post writer Bettina Elias Siegel, who used to practice law, sums up the case:

Above all else, the First Lady strikes me as a savvy pragmatist, pushing for reforms only where there are clear openings and likely pay-offs… But she also backs off when she deems the political price too high. That she can’t fix the problem from the East Wing is unfortunate, though predictable, and it doesn’t negate the importance of what she has been able to achieve in the last four years.

Marcy Karin, who teaches law, gives props to Michelle Obama and Let’s Move! for improving the situation of mothers who want to breastfeed their babies. Karin says:

Employers must provide job-protected ‘reasonable break time’ to non-exempt workers to express breast milk at work for up to one year… Employers also must provide a private location other than a bathroom to express milk free from coworker or public intrusion.

There are other advances too, but overall, it’s not enough, as Karin explains in a very detailed Huffington Post article.

Speaking of which, Dr. Pretlow recently appeared in a panel interview with Huffington Post Live, titled “Lunch with Michelle” (note for the impatient: he comes in at 6:32), discussing such topics as why all the answers are not found in nutrition and exercise. Input from the Weigh2Rock website has indicated that what kids really need is education in how to resist cravings for junk food, candy, and fast food.

In his recent appearance on Al Jazeera TV, as we mentioned, Dr. Pretlow named the top comfort foods that kids have the most trouble with (soda, chips, ice cream, etc.) and encouraged parents not to facilitate overeating, because it’s basically the same as enabling an addiction. He also wove in stories of real children and teens as examples of the underlying trends, and talked about his iPhone application, “W8 Loss 2 Go.”

Critics of the administration are not so worried about kids who get too much to eat, but are definitely concerned about those who don’t have enough. Judicial Watch expresses this point of view in a piece titled “Michelle’s $4.5 Bil Law Focuses On Childhood Obesity As Kids Starve.” Ouch! Their point is:

A few months ago taxpayers financed a dubious $2 million project in which a high-tech device tracked what minority public school children ate for lunch in one Texas district. The idea was to calculate how many lunchtime calories poor and minority kids consumed… While Michelle Obama’s campaign wastes money on this sort of nonsense, doctors in hospitals across the nation report a disturbing trend of severely malnourished kids whose families have fallen on hard times.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Has Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Done Enough to Combat Childhood Obesity?,” The Huffington Post, 10/12/12
Source: “Reasonable Break Time Provided Amidst the Breastfeeding Media Craze,” The Huffington Post, 10/24/12
Source: “Lunch with Michelle,” The Huffington Post
Source: “Michelle’s $4.5 Bil Law Focuses On Childhood Obesity As Kids Starve Judicial Watch, 07/28/11
Image by Stenly Lam.

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

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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