January 17 2014
photo by Reuters/Gary Cameron
This commentary appeared on Politico on January 16, 2014.
Almost four years ago, Michelle Obama—who turns 50 Friday—launched what would become the signature initiative of her tenure as first lady: Let's Move!, the national campaign to fight childhood obesity.
“The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake,” she said in launching the program, which has made strides in educating America about obesity and the risks kids face if they don't eat right and exercise. I applaud the first lady's dedication to the issue and the energy she has brought to the cause, planting a vegetable garden at the White House and visiting schools to encourage good exercise habits. And she has certainly led by example, as her famously toned arms attest. Yet I worry that the Let's Move! campaign, like other public education programs, is not enough to address the real forces behind America's obesity epidemic.
To identify the policies that will make a big fat dent in obesity rates, we first need an accurate diagnosis: Americans are overweight and obese because they are inundated with too much food.