Let’s Move… away from talking about food??

I am a big fan of Let’s Move, Michelle Obama’s campaign to curb childhood obesity. The movement touts the slogan: “America’s Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids” and they have done some wonderful things related to health eating policies, such as working to revise the old food pyramid into the new and improved food plate.


Unfortunately, according to the blog that tracks the all things food related for the Obama administration (appropriately named Obama Foodorama), Let’s Move will now be shifting its focus more exclusively to physical activity, and away from healthy eating:

Getting children to be more physically active should be much easier than getting them to eat healthy foods, Mrs. Obama said… “This isn’t forcing them to eat their vegetables,” Mrs. Obama said.  “It’s getting them to go out there and have fun.” (via Obama Foodorama)

Physical activity should be a vitally important part of every child’s life, not only for health reasons but also for the physical and social developments that come from play as well. However, it is sad to think that this renewed focus on physical activity will come at the cost of work related to healthy eating.

Those in the food policy world have already expressed their disappoint at this shift.

Promoting exercise isn’t a bad thing, of course, but it lets junk food companies off the hook. Nobody ever expected “Let’s Move” to make any real policy dents, but still, this shift is a bit disheartening. –Mark Bittman

I’m all for promoting physical activity but the refocusing is a loss, not a win, in the fight against childhood obesity. –Marion Nestle

Why the sudden shift? What are the politics behind this new policy? Nestle elaborates on this policy change by Let’s Move and ventures a very educated guess as to why is it happening:

Everyone loves to promote physical activity.  Trying to get the food industry to budge on product formulations and marketing to kids is an uphill battle that confronts intense, highly paid lobbying. The political cost of fighting the food industry is surely the reason for the change in Mrs. Obama’s rhetoric. (via Food Politics)

I understand and completely agree with Nestle’s assertion, and I am equally disheartened by this change. It’s another clear example of how enormous an effect politics can have in affecting policy change, and unfortunately, this appears to be a change for the worse.


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