Taking one more step toward the expected formal launch of what her aides describe as a “major program” aimed at targeting childhood obesity, First Lady Michelle Obama today joined administration health officials to discuss the release of the Surgeon General’s report about childhood obesity.
The report shows that 2/3 of adults and nearly one in three children are overweight or obese. Obesity in the U.S. more than doubled (from 15% to 34%) among adults and more than tripled (from 5% to 17%) among children and adolescents from 1980 to 2008.
Standing in a yoga room at a YMCA in Alexandria, Virginia the first lady - joined by Dr. Regina Benjamin, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and Dr. Judith Palfrey, President of the American Academy of Pediatric – said that childhood obesity is threatening the future of the nation.
“So as we’ve seen, the surge in obesity in this country is nothing short of a public health crisis,” the first lady said, “and it’s threatening our children, it’s threatening our families, and more importantly it’s threatening the future of this nation.”
The first lady says she has made a commitment to helping the obesity epidemic and promised that a larger, administration-wide initiative would be launched soon.
“We’re going to be bringing the federal government together, those resources in partnerships with business, non-profit and the foundation communities, all of whom are thrilled to be a part of this endeavor. It’s just been refreshing to see so many people recognizing that this is the time to step up and make some changes.”
Mrs. Obama said some of the changes will be small but make a large different: like creating healthier schools by providing nutritional information to children as part of the curriculum, and good options more affordable and accessible through all communities.
Stay tuned, the first lady said, for details of her “ambitious” initiative, to be released next month.
“I have every confidence, based on the level of energy that I’ve seen, based on the willingness of people to deal with this issue across party lines, the willingness of the business community to be a part of the solution. Every sign that we’ve seen over the course of moving to this rollout has been nothing but positive.”
Secretary Sebelius noted that the president singled out his wife last night during his State of the Union address about her leadership on the movement to address obesity.
The First Lady joked that yes she was embarrassed – as the president said she was - in front of the joint session.
“I get embarrassed when people stand up and clap for me,” she said recalling last night’s speech, “I don’t really know what to do. Do I wave?”