Childhood Obesity Initiative Announced by First Lady Michelle Obama

Statement of CSPI Nutrition Policy Director Margo G. Wootan

February 9, 2010

For far too long, the nation's response to childhood obesity has been underwhelming, considering obesity’s massive impact on the nation's physical and fiscal health. The First Lady has the clout and visibility to change that and mobilize the nation's resources to address the problem.

Helping to support parents’ efforts to feed their children well and get them engaged in physical activity will require not only working cooperatively with food and entertainment companies, but also calling on them to do better for our children. Beverage companies have taken some notable steps to get sugary sodas out of schools, but Mrs. Obama should call on beverage and food companies to support Senators Tom Harkin and Lisa Murkowski and Representative Lynn Woolsey in their bipartisan effort to update the disco-era national standards for school vending machines and get junk food and all sugary beverages out of schools once and for all. Entertainment conglomerates like Nickelodeon and Disney are limiting the use of their characters on junk foods and running PSAs, but should be pressed to remove junk-food advertising from their television channels and other media.

This year, Congress must reauthorize the school lunch and other child nutrition programs--a key opportunity to improve the diets and health of millions of American children. The First Lady can help by working with Congress to fund the full $1 billion per year recommended in the President's budget and urging them to move the bill quickly, so new reforms can be in place for the next school year.


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