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February 9th, 2010
07:57 AM ET

The Fight Against Childhood Obesity

One out of every three children in America is overweight or obese. Child obesity rates have more than tripled according to a recent report in the American Pediatrics Journal.

Today, first lady Michelle Obama will announce a new initiative to combat childhood obesity which she believes to be one of the greatest threats to America’s health and economy. The plan calls for the federal government and public schools to work together to provide nutritious food in schools, more opportunities to be physically active, and give communities greater access to affordable and healthy food.

So what do you think it will take to win the fight against childhood obesity?

soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. Chuck

    Nutritious food is a start, but parents should limit the modern conveniences kids have. Growing up I walked or rode a bike to my friends house and we did some sort of physical activity after school. Today kids text each other or go online and eat in front of the computer. More emphasis on physical activity during recess at school should be implemented as well.

    February 9, 2010 at 8:32 am |
  2. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    Food now days is to easy for kids to get too and the parents instead of cooking home cooked meal's buys hamburgers and pizza and throws junk food in there cabinets and refrigerators so they can get out of some work to take care of there kids .

    February 9, 2010 at 9:26 am |
  3. Cynthia

    I don't think this fight can be won. Students are at school 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and with their family the rest of the week. Parents have the primary responsibility for their child's health, and schools cannot "undo" what parents have created as a lifestyle. Schools already offer healthy alternatives – vegetables, fruits, salad bars – along with health classes and PE. What else can be done?

    February 9, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  4. jeanne

    i am a teacher. i am a parent.
    an electrical blackout would help us fight obesity. our children go home after school to computer games, not to engage in outdoor exercise.

    February 9, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  5. Crystal

    It has to start from home. Parents need to be educated on the right foods and the right portions to feed their children. Parents don't realize they create a childs eating habits. Also creating an active lifestyle for you and your child will increase their chances of living a healthier life.

    February 9, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  6. cameron clark, cheyenne wy

    I think the best way for kids to learn long term healthy habts is to learn from their parents. Parents acting as good examples is key in adolescent development.

    February 9, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  7. Carl

    I agree with the last two comments, and furthermore, we as a society need to get out of this Supersize, Super portions mentality. I travel often to Europe and it is a night and day difference. They eat junk food as well, but when you eat out, a meal is the size it should be, not something that can feed an entire neighborhood.

    But ultimately is does all come down to parental training and the home.

    February 9, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  8. Phil

    My first teaching job was in 1970. Some of the students of that particular school district grew some of their own vegetables. For example, our local Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter grew potatoes which the district used for a good part of the year in the Child Nutrition Program. This activity provided a hands on activity for students learning about growing crops, and the Child Nutrition benefitted by having easy access to locally grown produce.

    February 9, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  9. jacqueline

    dedication and perseverance on everyone's part, not just the children's.

    February 9, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  10. Joy of TN

    First it was fat and now we have obesity–Mrs. Obama is right to make this a cause. Some years ago, my daughter lived with a family and attended university in Costa Rica for a summer. Her Costa Rican mother was quite surprised when she met the two girls that would live with them. Her comment–"we thought all Americans were fat". I think that says it all.

    February 9, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  11. Danelle

    Children imitate the actions of their parents. Obesity is not just a problem for the children in our country. Obesity levels have risen dramatically in the last three decades from people being an average of 10 lbs overweight to an average of 30+ lbs overweight. We can no longer promote the PC doctrine that you should love whatever size you are - rather you should love your body enough to take care of it and love your children enough to teach them how to take care of themselves.

    February 9, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  12. greer geiger

    We have all but eliminated physical education in schools. That is a far bigger impact on childhood obesity than one lunch a day when they go home to poor meals. Children today are more sedentary!

    When I was in school, physical education was a requirement for graduation and was participated in all of your years in school. With the advent of video games, children are not playing outside as we did in the past.

    We have to prioritize keeping such programs as physical education a requisite requirement. For many, they were introduced to different sports this way. You will not solve obesity with school lunch.

    February 9, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  13. Marilynn

    I think the president needs to take care of his job for the American people and country, not worry about school lunches, etc. The schools should fix lunches that are good for the children, but it's up to the parents to curb their children's eating habits. It's definitely not up to the president nor his wife. There has already been way too much money spent for whatever Obama dreams up. This country is broke and debt, and yet Obama spends more and more. School lunches is not anything the government needs to be concerned with. The government has its nose stuck into things that aren't their business. Obama is leading America more and more into Communism. It's scary.

    February 9, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  14. Reid

    Hit the companies in the pocketbook who make, market and saturate the media with add campaigns towards children and parents who don't have the where with all to say no to overpricessed sugar laden food sources. Fair taxes.

    February 9, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  15. facethelove

    There is nothing that can be done on a government level. It will have to start in the home. a couple of generations ago, there werent over 800 cable channels, just 13. There werent video games so advanced you feel like you are actually in the game. There was no Youtube or Myspace or quick access to porn. There was no internet. Because of this Kids went outside to play. There was also less deceiving by food manufacturers to make us believe their products are healthy. Less government corruption, less lobbiest. Less everything. WE HAVE WAY TO MUCH ACCESS today. To many people stand to make a profit off of our obesity off of our sickness from complications due to poor diet. Drug companies, Food manufacturers, cable networks, internet businesses, video game manufacturers etc. THIS HAS TO START AT HOME!

    February 9, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  16. Bill Hicks

    Our failure to properly fund the public schools has resulted in mediocre school lunch programs and in many cases a complete abandonment of physical education programs. When I was in high school in the '60's, we not only had well-balanced hot meals, but we also had the opportunity to take four years of physical education. Budget cuts have eliminated these programs in many schools.

    February 9, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  17. Eugene Brezany

    When I was a schoolboy in northside urban St. Louis, I don't recall any obese children among my classmates. That was a while back. I started school in 1949 and I walked to school, about 10 or 12 blocks. I could readily have gone twice that distance with ease. Everybody walked to school. In winter I got to carry a hot baked potato to keep me extra warm. and I got to eat the potato too. I never was offered a schoolbus ride; there weren't any schoolbuses to any school I ever attended. My suggestion is to get rid of the busses. Let the kids walk. Rain, snow, ice. It was all fun. Sure it's dangerous on the road. So is being fat.

    February 9, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  18. Lise

    Childhood obesity starts with poorly nourished mothers. I am a Certified Nurse-Midwife in Chicago. One of the most important aspects of prenatal care is good nutrition. We can affect so much change when we teach pregnant women which foods help them and their children be healthy. Poorly nourished moms have more complications in pregnancy, labor, and birth. When a woman learns how to nourish therself and her children well, the cycle of obesity and ill-health can be broken. When a woman learns the power of good nutrition, she wants the benefits for herself and her children. I hope that Mrs. Obama's initiative will address federal subsidies for corn that makes sugary drinks and snacks so "cheap".

    February 9, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  19. Karin Peace

    Feeding the children healthier food for school Lunches is a good start, however schools cannot be responbible for the obesity problem in children that would be the responsibility of the parents to know what to feed the kids the rest of the day.
    I would think better and healthier breakfasts and lunches combined with a lot more physical ed would be more beneficial.

    February 9, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  20. bev becker

    when I went to school, I walked to school ! Elementary and Junior High, High school was a bit far so I took a bus! I took my own lunch so was not able to be tempted by empty calorie foods, snacks, puddings, cookies, pizza, pop, etc that kids can get during lunch time now. Besides that I think we should look at our food industry, and all the fast growth harmones, and other ingredients they are feeding to animals to get them to grow fast, fat and big for a quick market turn around. All that junk goes into people too!

    I think kids should have gym everyday!

    February 9, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  21. cameron clark, cheyenne wyoming

    I think the best way for kids to learn healthy habits is to learn from their parents' healthy habits. Health is a personal and family affair and national campaigns will only be so effective. Parents' examples are a more effective long term tool.

    February 9, 2010 at 10:04 am |
  22. April R

    Children learn habits, including eating habits, from their parents. The government should focus on campaigns that educate and reward parents for promoting healthy food choices. The same eating habits that I learned as a child have followed me through my adult years. Charity begins at home, and so does eating.

    February 9, 2010 at 10:04 am |
  23. Keith Nichols

    We eat because of taste, and the taste makes up happy. We have to rethink why we eat. We need to learn what different foods do for the body to eat for the nutrition that's in the food and not for the taste.

    February 9, 2010 at 10:07 am |
  24. Lynda

    Yes yes yes! a huge cause to childhood obesity is from the food served to children not only in schools, but at home as well. Furthermore, children are also victims of the advancement of technology in the USA. If you want to know my points of view, here is what I have to say:

    Introduce healthy food in schools, not as a choice but as the only food offered by the schools. This will force children into eating healthy starting at a young age. The ideal introduce children to healthy food at a yong age

    Train parents to healthy choices and always present them the consequences of junk food and the advantage of healty food. Ask parents to train their children at home to eat healthy, and this should not be a choice. Also ask parents to monitor the activities of their children.

    Schools should established a sport education program that should be mandatory for all students except for students with some disabilities. Speaking of a sport education program, I'm not referring to extra curriculum activities, but I'm talking of a daily program that should be established

    Obesity is a problem in the USA and should be hit hard if something has to be done.

    February 9, 2010 at 10:08 am |
  25. Bill

    Marilynn–Healthy school lunches are not a Communist plot.

    February 9, 2010 at 10:09 am |
  26. Don Borkoski, VA

    Instead of helping to prevent obesity, our government subsidizes or supports foods that contribute to it. Meats, dairy, cereal, soda, fast foods, etc. dominate the advertising media. Stores are packed with high calorie, sugar filled, fat filled foods. Even eating moderately is too much, because of the processed and enriched foods available.. Fruit and veggies are difficult to find or too expensive for most families. Obesity contributing foods are everywhere especially for our kids in machines, fast food and quick stores.
    If America is going to fight obesity the government, business and people have to work together. Obviously business will need incentives to change, because currently the obesity contributing foods are their biggest money makers and the cheapest foods for Americans. This will require a significant culture change, which is never easy or popular. I hope our government leadership can get the ball rolling, otherwise we are at the mercy of a multifaceted deadly system.

    February 9, 2010 at 10:12 am |
  27. Jim

    I agree, the government needs to get out of our everyday lives. They have been providing money for years for school lunch programs and the obesity problem has gotten worse. The thing that was on CNN this morning that you don't mention in this blog is the plantng of vegitable gardens. Question, who is going to maintain these gardens after they are planted? In most of the country, you plant in May and havest in August. Most schools in America let out in late May or Early June and start in September.The students won't be around, so what do we do, hire the teachers through the summer to tend these gardens?

    February 9, 2010 at 10:13 am |
  28. Debra, Savannah, GA

    As far as exercising/playing outside, we live in a very different world. Too bad children can't play outside like we used to. I was born in the 1950's in New Orleans and we used to play outside (during the 60's) even in the evenings. Every evening you would hear many mothers yelling out their doors, "Tommy, Susie, Johnny, supper time," and all the kids would go running home to eat dinner as a family together, every night. Then we'd play on our porches or continue to ride our bikes and play in the neighborhood and later mothers would yell out, "Tommy, Susie, Johnny, time to get ready for bed." Nowadays, living in Savannah, Georgia, if we hear a woman yelling out her door at night, we would call the police thinking she was in trouble or she was being robbed. Times have changed. People keep their children and grandchildren inside mainly because there are so many depraved individuals out there who think nothing of snatching children from bus stops, street corners, and their own front yard, in broad daylight. What are parents (and babysitters) supposed to do? Maybe Obama could use some of his stimilus money or all the other money he seems to 'find' for other things to place a treadmill in every household so that all adults and children could exercise and 'walk' without fear of being attacked.

    February 9, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  29. Paula

    Very sad to say, but this is another attempt by government to help . Unfortunately, it cannot be fixed that way. This turn around must start at home. The government and schools are not responsible for childhood obesity, nor can they fix it. On a positive note, little changes do make a difference, and I'm not just talking about schools. This is an extremely important part of being a parent. I will say this about school. I really don't think the food is the problem. They have all but cut P.E. out of school. Most schools only have P.E. 2 or 3 days a week now, & only 30 minutes or so. What is up with that? Wouldn't it be cheaper for schools to increase P.E. time, rather than change meals? And if they keep going up on the cost of school lunch, who's going to benefit from healthier food? The wealthy? I cannot afford for my child to each lunch at school now.

    February 9, 2010 at 10:21 am |
  30. Amanda from California

    If schools were to deliberately teach kids to spell or do math incorrectly it would not be tolerated. Why should they be allowed to deliberately, and knowingly, feed kids food that makes them fat?

    For example, my son had to buy lunch at (middle) school yesterday: Here's what he ate: raviolis, juice sweetened with corn syrup and a "log" of hashbrowns. Imagine how that would impact a kid eating that junk every day at school, and then again when he is comes home?

    The bottom line is that kids have become obese because they are eating TOO many calories and of those calories, WAY TOO many are unhealthy. But there's no mystery here; it's science. A glut of any calories (good or bad) turns into fat. They need help in rebalancing their diets to include more whole foods and healthy fats/grains, and to rid their diets of the bad foods i.e. unhealthy fat (food fried in inexpensive oils), corn syrup (soft drinks!) and refined grains (white bread and breading in fried food). And to eat fewer overall calories.

    Schools have a perfect opportunity five days a week to help kids unlearn poor eating habits and to become educated on what it feels like to eat a healthy meal.

    February 9, 2010 at 10:22 am |
  31. Julie

    Every U.S. citizen needs to understand the history of the development of agriculture in the USA. It will take leadership from the Obama along with Vilsak and Duncan to stand up to big ag (e.g. Monsanto, etc.) and STOP the use and consumption of high fructose corn syrup and other artificial sweeteners. Parents and schools can't make this massive shift in changing our eating habits if our laws don't support affordable healthy local foods. The USDA and the Dept of Ed will have to work together to allow local foods to be used in school lunchroom.

    February 9, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  32. Pamala

    Childhood obesity is not the responsibility of teachers nor schools. Controlling what kids eat and how much is the parent's responsibility. Most kids consume only one meal per day at school. The other meals and sacks are at home. Parents need to assume the duty and get off of their lazy butts and take control of their kids. It doesn't take special education to know that most chips, sweet rolls, donuts, cookies, etc. will make one fat and unhealthy. Ride a bike.

    February 9, 2010 at 10:29 am |
  33. Ayesha

    February 9, 2010

    Dear Betty,

    I am a democrat who does believe that Government can and should play a positive role for the good of its citizens.

    While trying to reduce childhood/ adult obesity one person at a time with diet and exercise is important, the problem is endemic to our corporate Agri business, and it must be regulated with laws passed by our federal Government.

    (1) Reduce salt to 1/3 of current amount in processed foods.

    (2A) Reduce Sugar to 1/3 of current amount in processed foods.

    (2B) Or better still, over a decade ban sugar and artificial sweeteners from processed foods and drinks, and replace with a natural sweetener from a Paraguayan leaf, marketed as Stevia, which has 0 (zero) calories.

    (3) Ban all High Fructose Corn Syrup from foods

    (4) Ban the excessive use of Antibiotics in animal feed and allow use on a "needs be" basis.

    Thank you.

    Ayesha

    February 9, 2010 at 10:31 am |
  34. Bernice

    I applaud Michelle Obama for her effort to get our children in shape. I do think it needs to start, as everything does, in the home with the family. If you look at the children who are obese or overweight, you will probably find at least one, if not both, parents are also. Because of the learned behavior, the food that is prepared and eaten comes sometimes from generations of traditonal fattening foods. I grew up on a farm and we ate a lot of carbs to give us energy, but we also had a balanced meal because we grew our own fruits, vegetables and pork and belonged to a share beef program.
    So I suggestion is that we need to train the parent/parents of the children to grow their own, how to prepare it and how much to serve, perhaps through PTA groups. Thanks, Bernice

    February 9, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  35. Paula

    I have been a Health and PE teacher for 20 years. While it is encouraging to me to hear so many people argue FOR PE, I believe that we are missing a boat somewhere. Yes we MUST encourage and offer the physical activity, and yes, we should be offering healthier better quality school lunches, but we are not teaching kids WHY they should take their own initiative to do these things for themselves when no one is putting it in front of them.
    I believe that quality HEALTH education combined with PE (many states have both as one course) is an answer to many of our country's issues, including obesity. Our children need to learn how to put together healthy meals, how to make time to prepare healthy meals and get rid of many of the myths that it's to difficult and to expensive to have a healthy diet.
    HEALTH education also addresses underlying issues of childhood obesity. It teaches not only what a healthy diet is, but also how your diet effects your body in ways other than obesity. It teaches the positive values of a healthy diet, not just about being fat, developing heart disease and being unattractive.
    It is also upsetting to me to see all the comments that talk only about high school PE. When do children start building habits and lifestyles? They don't wait for high school. Habits start so much earlier! Why aren't we pushing for these lessons to be learned from the start of school?
    Health education addresses all three components of a person's overall wellness, physical, mental and social. I truly believe that Health education addresses most of the current youth issues that our country complains about. Teen obesity, pregnancy, addiction and violence.

    February 9, 2010 at 10:53 am |
  36. Joseph Pierandozzi

    The war on obesity, the war on terror, and the war on drugs; all wars on intangible ideas, rather than on groups or individuals. Want a war that will never be won, and therefore will never end? Start by naming an idea as your enemy. Good luck, Madam President. You'll need it.

    February 9, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  37. Rebecca Dalmeida

    The problem is two fold: 1) parents provide the TV's, video games and cell phones that allow the children to lead an entertained coach potato lifestyle. 2) The schools are serving student requested junk food and either limiting or shutting down physical ed programs and after school sports both for monetary and legal liability reasons. Both situations need to change drastically to impact the kids.

    February 9, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  38. Paula

    I feel that I must add to my earlier comment. As much as we talk about schools providing healthy foods and setting examples through the foods they offer, our obesity problem goes back to the old saying... "give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. TEACH a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime" Well, give a kid a healthy lunch and he'll eat well today. TEACH him to eat healthy (and to have a healthy lifestyle) and he'll eat well on his own. Perhaps he'll even go home and pass his knowledge on to his family who missed the opportunity to learn.

    We spend a crazy amount of time trying to RE-TRAIN habits rather than start them from the begining.

    February 9, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  39. Christine

    I believe it is terrific that Michelle Obama has taken up this fight. That being said, I think there is very little that the government can do. Yes, the schools need to bring P.E. class back to 5 days a week. Yes, the schools can serve more nutritious foods. Yes, the celebrities can stop putting the idea of junk food in our childrens' minds. The problem with that, however, is that no matter what happens at school and what is sold on television, parents are the ones who make the final decision on what their children eat. There is the real issue. If the parents refuse to change their eating habits, the children never will. If the parents don't get out of the house to exercise, the children won't either. Parents have to lead by example, and that is where we are failing our children. At some point, we have to stop making raising our children the responsibility of everyone else.

    February 9, 2010 at 11:07 am |
  40. Betsy

    Nutrition is only half the solution. Sedentary kids don't burn calories and they don't build muscle mass, develop balance and coordination, etc. That's just as important to lifelong health. Do kids want to "exercise"? Not many of us do. But, did kids throughout all of human history love digging in their backyards, finding bugs under rocks and building forts, running in the park and making up their own games? Yep – and it was free! I know it's not Ozzie and Harriet world anymore, but there ARE ways to get kids playing outside in a natural setting again, whether you on a farm, in the suburbs or the inner city. We need everybody engaged in this – parents, child care centers (where 55% of kids under six spend their time), schools and urban planners. We changed the health of our children by changing our culture in the short span of 30 years. I think First Lady Obama is heading in the right direction and hope she'll inspire a change back to a culture where kids eat healthy food AND get to experience the joys of romping around in the natural world – not a boring gymnasium.

    February 9, 2010 at 11:09 am |
  41. Eve Sim

    No Water at School Lunch Contributes to Obesity

    Public schools are NOT required to include anything to drink for lunch except milk. Clean water is NOT a requirement. But so many kids, especially minority group kids, are lactose intolerant. They can buy bottled water or drink from the hall water fountain – the one that is covered with H1N1 germs, old gum and other yuck!! The cafeteria is not required to provide potable water.

    Food contains moisture that satisfies thirst, so thirsty kids are more likely to overeat contributing to obesity. Most reasonable diet plans recognize the link between thirst and obesity; drinking sufficient water is a top recommendation. It is a disgrace that In the United States potable water at school is regarded as a luxury.

    I was told that if water were a problem, my child could bring a cup from home and the school would tell the cafeteria servers to permit her to go back into the kitchen and get some tap water from a faucet! Do you know any high school girls who would submit to being embarrassed just to get a drink of water? If she is really thirsty and has not had time to get back to her locker for the water bottle she brought from home, then she buys water instead of lunch (Lunch is $2.25; water is nearly as much at $1.25; the cafeteria keeps the profit.)

    Note: we pay for my daughter's milk, whether or not she drinks it, so there would be no loss to the Milk industry if she got water.

    I have been told by the authorities that schools in our state will not give water unless it is listed as part of the Federal School Lunch program and it is NOT. Why can’t we put “choice of milk or water” on the Federal List?

    Does lack of water discriminate against minority and low income children? Of course it does.
    Thank you for looking into this important and easy to solve matter.
    February 9, 2010

    February 9, 2010 at 11:16 am |
  42. LINDA REAGAN

    The answer to childhood obesity rests not only on parents and home lifestyles, but also in the schoolhouse. Today, with the entire emphasis on learning, physical activity is very limited, leading to not only obesity, but an increase in behavior problems. In the 1950s and 1960s, we went to school from 8:30 to 4:00. We had a recess in the morning for 30 minutes, an hour for lunch where we ate our lunch and then went out to play and a 30 minute recess in the afternoon. Today, children have one supervised PE period in the afternoon. PERIOD. Lunch is a 30 minute chow down, where they have to eat as quickly as they can, no talking, then rushed back to the classroom to resume their studies. I suggest that a return to a more sensible routine would not only cure obesity, but would also provide an improved learning environment.

    February 9, 2010 at 11:17 am |
  43. Connie Wendzicki

    A large part of the problem is the food itself. The chemicals used to preserve and grow it and the farming methods used to maximize the land utilization are a major source of the problem. These foods no longer provide the nutrients your body needs to function properly, and the chemicals go on to block your waste removal system. This needs to be addressed by the rules and regulations that govern the agricultural community.

    The second problem is the number of "over" processed foods available that convert strait to sugar once eaten – ice cream, breads, cakes, crackers, cookies, cereals ... Most people are unaware of what these foods do to their health and their ability to loose weight. Right now a majority of the food in our groceries are processed foods and that is what is driving diabetes and other diseases up in our country.

    I would like to see Michelle focus her efforts on the root causes.

    February 9, 2010 at 11:18 am |
  44. Sherry

    Why is everyone over thinking this problem. I see this first hand every month. A person who gets hundreds of dollars FREE do not use it wisely. They buy TV dinners, chips, lots of beef, and believe me nothing is generic!!! Just take the time to investigate this. Believe me it is definetly woth investigating.

    February 9, 2010 at 11:32 am |
  45. Greg

    We shouldn't need politicians, athletes, or leaders to tell us this is a problem. We need to take control of our health. Luckily, thanks to online fitness tools like Holosfitness.com its never been easier to get in shape, stay in shape, and lead a healthy lifestyle.

    February 9, 2010 at 11:35 am |
  46. Sue DiBenedetto

    Childhood nutrition needs must first be started at home when old enough to understand (around 3 or 4 years) what is a normal portion size. Parents need to lead the charge in practicing what they are telling their children is appropriate. I see way to often Moms and dads in a restaurant or fast food place, and the examples they are setting are awful. Children will imitate what they see, such as mom and dad ordering and then eating a huge portion of french fries, with that cheese
    burger, washed down with a giant soft drink. If the parents would set the example of lets say a grilled turkey burger, with baked sweet potato fries, and in lieu of high calorie/high sugar soft drink, let's say either a flavored water (0 calories), or better yet, plain water!, they would be cutting out so many calories, and so much fat! Please parents, please set the examples! We all know that smoking kills, and we all warn our children, why aren't we taking the same stand on childhood obesity? These kids are going to be prone to diabetes, high blood pressure etc. LETS GET ON BOARD!

    February 9, 2010 at 12:24 pm |
  47. John Thielbahr

    Increased childhood obesity is a direct result of spending too much time indoors on electronics. It used to be that our moms sent us out to play in the morning and had to drag us in by dark. We were outside exploring nature, riding, walking, running, swinging, digging and just playing and exploring. Please encourage families to spend more time outdoors, just playing. Please encourage schools to have recess and connect students to the natural world. Please encourage doctors and nurses to prescribe nature as an antidote to obesity.

    February 9, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
  48. Ginger Wells-Kay

    To combat childhood obesity: Parents need to stop blaming schools and schools need to stop blaming parents. Both have tremendous influence on our children's lives. Parents need to get outdoors with their kids. Schools need to focus less on competitive team sports for the few and more on lifetime physical activities for the many such as jogging/walking, hiking, yoga, aerobic exercise, use of weights, swimming, gym work outs, etc.

    Getting kids outdoors is high priority–from nursery school on up. A friend told me recently that his daughter entered 6th grade this year in a NH public school and was appalled to hear that there was no recess, outdoor or indoor. Last year in her local private school, the kids spent half the day, regardless of weather, outside. When his daughter went on a tour of the public school, the guide told her proudly that all the 6th grade rooms in the new school were close together so they wouldn't have to walk very far. Last year, she had classes in buildings a quarter mile apart that she got to by walking through the snow and rain (if any) across fields of mud and wild flowers. What a difference.

    Outdoor exercise is as important as a good diet. The two go hand-in-hand in promoting good health and fighting obesity for our children.

    February 9, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
  49. Eve Sim

    Right on, Ginger. I agree completely. In my area, where sports are more important than academics, parents must make the commitment – that is, agree to pay $1,000, $2,000, even $3,000 a year for your kid to participate in any athletics, except the required half year of P.E. (per 4 years of high school). There are no low pressure, just for fun, happy sports. Got to be the best – or just go home. On school grounds, I do not think that athletics should be only for the RICH kids, and for me $1,000 for 4 years is a lot of money; $3,000 for 4 years is out of the question. It is discrimination against low income kids.

    February 9, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
  50. ken

    I think the obese kids need to stop eating so much food . The obese kids should give some of their food to homeless or starving children. Michele should set an example by exercising herself with a butt buster.

    February 9, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
  51. Diane M Genco

    NJ is behind this campaign 100%. We are in the 2nd year of promoting youth in afterschool programs to be Outdoors in the Garden State!
    Times have changed, so has childhood. Kids are indoors too much. Too much screen time.
    To get kids healthy they need to play outside- with no extension cords!

    February 9, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
  52. Brenda

    Our government should do away with subsidies for corn. High fructose corn syrup should be banned, there should be no sugar snacks in schools, no white flour. Our animals should not be fed corn, which they are allergic to, hence they are constantly fed anti-biotics to fight their infections. Our dairy cows are pumped full of growth hormone to make them overeat–you think maybe those hormones are affecting everyone's appetites too? The whole country is fat! Let's start with the unhealthy but productive agri-business that the government supports that is ruining our food supply. If we have to have subsidies, let the government subsidize organic vegetables so we all eat better at a better price.

    February 9, 2010 at 4:26 pm |
  53. glenda

    The problem with obesity is very severe. The lower income are affected by this epidemic. There should be a monitoring of the food intake that Americans consume. For example: The Wic program has a list of healthy foods, so why not make the EBT card to where most of the food is healthy that is being purchased.

    February 9, 2010 at 10:20 pm |
  54. daniel

    I agree in some way with the intention of Mrs Obama to try to fight childhood obesity but I think the government should worry more about our nation's problems and not on school lunches. it's the job of parents to educate and teach our kids about eating well or to motivate them to be more active in outdoor activities like playing sports jogging swimming going camping. But Unfortunately I also think that we have really spoiled our kids with TV Internet video games and the cellphone. our kids definitely need to spend more time outdoors and less time in doors.

    February 10, 2010 at 1:28 am |
  55. Arine Ward

    It still amazes me, that some comment that ...Welfare, and EBT, is the cause of obesity. Developing healthy eating habits, has nothing to do with Government Assistance Benefits...

    Again the major cause for the mess in America...Americans forever will find a way to point a finger...

    People, eat because in some cases that is all they really know, they can't afford some extra-curricular activities...EBT, or Gov't Assistance doesn't make that possible...So instead of pointing fingers, do your part and sponsor a child to play sports, or other healthy activities, and then they can put the EBT down in your sight!

    February 10, 2010 at 11:54 am |
  56. Craig Niemi

    The Cincinnati Observatory collaborates with many organizations that at first glance may not look like they are directly aligned with our mission of K-16 education in astronomy and space science.

    However many of our members, myself included, enjoy the hobby of astronomy because it is a chance to get out in nature and enjoy all the celestial as well as terrestrial treasures found under the night sky.

    The Observatory supports the Leave No Child Inside initiative of Greater Cincinnati (www.lncigc.org) as it supports the idea of children getting outside and experiencing the world around them, both during the day and night.

    Through unstructured outdoor play and exploration children “unplug” and actively learn about the world around them. This time spent in nature is essential for the physical, mental and emotional health of all children.

    February 10, 2010 at 12:47 pm |
  57. molly

    I applaud Michelle Obama for recognizing how serious a problem childhood obesity has become. According to the good people that posted a comment on this blog, two key ingredients are needed to combat obesity – diet and exercise. Here are my comments:

    Grants offered to schools for developing healthy breakfasts and lunches may do little to correct this situation unless a functioning accountablilty component is in place. Changing milk sold at school from whole to 2% will do little in terms of weight loss.

    Across the U.S. new neighborhoods are built everyday. Companies that build these neighborhoods go before the town council and get approval for their projects. Then 100+ units are constructed with no common space playground or play area. The children have no means of getting outdoor activity because the traffic level outside their home is too high. Their exercise is limited to the school day, which at best, this is 5 days per week for 10 months a year.

    February 10, 2010 at 6:54 pm |
  58. Brian Hanna

    i love how most of these posts are about the children going home to play games.

    since when can we expect 8-12 year old children to do something that isn't fun to them (and if video games is all they know, why would they stop).

    Stop targeting the children, and start targeting their just as obese parents, or is it only a good idea to fight obesity when it isn't affecting you?

    February 11, 2010 at 10:20 am |