As the 2012 presidential election campaign heats up and children across the country head back to school, it is evident that President and First Lady Obama ‘s nutrition initiatives have changed the way American children eat.
Michelle Obama, the newest spokesperson fighting against childhood obesity, maintains that children’s health is not about politics, but rather should be considered a necessary undertaking for the benefit of children and the future of their health. “In the end, as First Lady, this isn’t just a policy issue for me,” declares Michelle. “This is a passion. This is my mission. I am determined,” she continues, “ to work with folks across this country to change the way a generation of kids thinks about food and nutrition.”
The new school nutrition reforms fall under the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which President Obama signed in 2010. This act, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, creates legislation that “authorizes funding and sets policy for USDA’s core child nutrition programs,” including the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the Summer Food Service Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program. The objective of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act is to allow the USDA the “opportunity to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children.”
Together, both President and First Lady Obama have made significant headway by improving lunch options in schools across the country. The new lunch standards promoted by the Obama administration through the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act include the switch to whole grains, more fruits and vegetables, and low-sodium and low-fat options in school menus. In addition to an improved menu, the Health watch section of the political blog “The Hill” reports that this coming school year, guidelines will be implemented to control the calorie maximum for students based on their age to balance the previous minimum calorie gauge.
Because nutrition’s best friend is fitness, Michelle Obama has launched the Let’s Move! initiative to fight childhood obesity and to act as an early intervention to adult obesity by providing children with the tools to maintain a healthy lifestyle. According to the Let’s Move! website, www.letsmove.gov, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum to create the first Task Force on Childhood Obesity, designed to review all “programs and policies relating to child nutrition and physical activity and develop a national action plan to maximize federal resources and set concrete benchmarks toward the First Lady’s national goal.”
The Task Force focuses on five significant elements intended to promote a healthy lifestyle for children, including creating a healthy start for children, empowering parents, providing healthy foods in schools, improving access to healthy, affordable food, and increasing physical activity.
No matter your political stance, it is clear that the Obamas seem to have substantially contributed to the health and wellness of American children, but it is up to American society to keep up the momentum. As the Let’s Move! Website explains, “Everyone has a role to play in reducing childhood obesity, including parents and caregivers, elected officials from all levels of government, schools, health care professionals, faith-based and community-based organizations, and private sector companies. Your involvement is key to ensuring a healthy future for our children.”
The Nutrition Nook is a column brought to you by the Stern College for Women Nutrition Club. Please share any ideas, interests, or questions that you want to see discussed in this forum at email@example.com