i was listening to the C-SPAN’s live program today: michelle obama was interviewed about her work on childhood obesity and the Let’s Move organization that she kicked off early february. michelle obama was joined by a group of students who submitted videos for C-SPAN’s StudentCam documentary program. included in the audience was Matthew Shimura from Punahou School in Honolulu, HI whose video, “Childhood Obesity: A Challenge Facing America,” won first place in the middle school category.
both mrs. obama’s mission and matthew’s video were clear:
- government needs to participate. they can improve school lunches. since many kids get at least 2 meals a day from schools, it may be their introduction to how they eat in the future. mrs. obama mentioned that the school, including the lunchroom, can also be a learning tool about nutrition. we need to reduced processed foods served at the lunches. in addition, government can help improve nutrition labels in foods to make it easier to customers to understand what they are purchasing. matthew said we are living in the “land of abundance” with calorie dense foods that are easily accessible (cheap and easy to eat) vs. nutritious foods that take more work (resources not available, time-consuming to prepare and expensive). also some communities don’t have easy access to fresh produce.
- exercise is necessary – at minimum of 1 hour per day. matthew’s video begins by talking about how our society has changed – previous active lifestyle (riding bikes, playing outside) has been replaced by inactive lifestyles (statistics show that children watch an average of 4-6 hours of tv/video games/computers per day). the Let’s Move organization was so named to include the need of exercise in the fight against childhood obesity. mrs. obama acknowledged the issue with schools cutting recess and physical activity when they are in financial difficulty. she also addressed how children in lower income neighborhoods may not have parks to play in or safe streets to walk on so children may have even less access to outdoor activity.
- all must participate. not only is it something the government can do but participation is also necessary from bottom up. while the government can help, they can’t tell each person how or what to eat. it must come from individual homes. it also can come from the children. if children won’t try new things or refuse to eat things then it makes it difficult for parents to feed their children healthier. mrs. obama said that her kids sometimes checks her on what is better to eat and that is something children can do with their families.
matthew concludes in his video: “we must improve nutrition, encourage exercise and all work together to raise a generation of health fit citizens for the 21st century.” with our current generation possibly being the first where our kids will live shorter lives than their parents, it is an urgent call.
when i started thinking about food and writing this blog, my mindset was on how i needed to be healthier, for myself as well as for my loved ones. while that is of course important – it starts with ourselves – my new obsession has broadened from my personal interest to our national concern. i am continuing to learn more and see how i can take part to improve our culture to a nutritious and active one. i am ready to MOVE!
- United States Department of Agriculture: HealthierUS School Challenge
- organization: Let’s Move!
- initiative: Fit Kids Act to amend the No Child Left Behind Act
* read my past post about Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution show and the youth food revolution