Obesity is a national epidemic that affects both children and adults. It is the cornerstone of many diseases and conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis. The current First Lady within the White House, Michelle Obama, recognizes the need of the American public to try to eat better and exercise more so that we can get collectively stronger. Her initiative, aptly named Let’s Move, encourages parents, schools, and community members to help educate children and contribute to healthy lifestyle changes. And although the focus of the campaign is on childhood obesity, there’s plenty of common sense tools that adults can benefit from as well.
There’s been a long history of First Ladies who have founded their own campaigns on issues that they felt strongly about. Lucy Hayes, wife of President Rutherford Hayes, was an advocate for women’s education. This was quite a feat, considering Hayes served as President from 1877-1881, long before women’s education was considered “important” by most members of society. In fact, Lucy was the first First Lady to graduate from college, definitely a rarity for women during that time period. Ladybird Johnson, wife of Lyndon B. Johnson, was an integral factor in the beautification process of our communities and the highways.
Getting the community involved in fighting the battle against childhood obesity is something that Michelle Obama wholeheartedly believes in. She, along with many other experts, agree that exercise and healthy eating are often set aside by today’s busy families. The program encourages healthy snacking, such as fruits and vegetables. Let’s Move also focuses on making school lunches more balanced – and that includes reducing the amount of processed high-fat and high sugar foods that are served due to budget restraints or simply because they are convenient.
Of course, like other campaigns by former First Ladies, this movement isn’t something that occurs overnight. Real change takes time – and building healthy habits requires awareness about how the obesity epidemic started in the first place. It’s a known fact that kids today have numerous distractions that keep them from engaging in physical activity – including video games and the Internet. Thirty or forty years ago, kids didn’t have access to those things and they were simply more active. And in order for it to continue in the right direction, kids, parents, and community members must be educated so that healthy habits become the norm instead of the exception.