FLOTUS Food Frenzy: Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” Campaign Praised By Some, Criticized By Others

March 4, 2013  |  

First Lady Michelle Obama speaking in Missouri last Thursday. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Although the First Lady’s anti-obesity campaign, Let’s Move, has prompted awareness of healthy eating issues, some are criticizing her approach. The campaign, which has celebrated its third anniversary, is the White House’s effort to fight obesity, especially in children. The latest stats indicate that about one-third of U.S. children are overweight or obese.

According to a recent op-ed Michelle Obama wrote for the Wall Street Journal making the business case for healthy food, companies are making money off of health food. But some in the food industry have criticized the campaign as government intrusion, according to the Huffington Post.

“Conservatives accused Mrs. Obama of going too far and dictating what people should — and shouldn’t — eat after she played a major behind-the-scenes role in the passage in 2010 of a child nutrition law that required schools to make foods healthier,” reports HuffPo.  And some companies are complaining that healthier food costs more and thus doesn’t sell as well.

In her editorial, FLOTUS wrote, “Every day, great American companies are achieving greater and greater success by creating and selling healthy products. In doing so, they are showing that what’s good for kids and good for family budgets can also be good for business.”

Whole Foods, which sells  healthy offerings, has increased its sales at an annual average rate of 13 percent over the past five years, according to financial site, The Motley Fool. And, sales of organic foods grew by 9.5 percent in 2001, outpacing the traditional grocery industry, according to Business News Daily.

However, according to a New York Times investigation, major food companies boost their bottom line by making addictive and extremely unhealthy products.

Still, nutritionists applaud the effort. Larry Soler, president and chief executive of the Partnership for a Healthier America, told the news site that Mrs. Obama has “been the leader in making the case for the time is now in childhood obesity and everyone has a role to play in overcoming the problem.”

And the general public seems to welcome the influence. According to a recent Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, more than eight in 10 of those surveyed, 84 percent, support requiring more physical activity in schools, and 83 percent favor government providing people with nutritional guidelines and information about diet and exercise. Seventy percent are in favor of restaurants putting calorie counts on menus, and 75 percent consider being overweight or obese a serious problem in this country, according to the telephone survey of 1,011 adults.

More than that, Michelle Obama is a great spokesperson for the issue. Ever since her video with Jimmy Fallon went up a little over a week ago, “The Evolution of Mom Dance,” it has gotten over 14 million views. That video was to promote the Let’s Move campaign.

Adding criticism upon criticism, there are some that say the First Lady is making too many public appearances. Even if her Let’s Move work is justified, some were put off by her video appearance on the Oscars. She responded to that on the Today show on Friday.

“That’s just the nature of life,” the First Lady said about the criticism. Of course, she’s also gotten a lot of attention she didn’t ask for over her new bangs, an issue brought up during the interview as well.

According to HuffPo, Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer and the site of that Today show interview, now not only includes nutritional labeling on its store brands  but has also pledged to cut sodium and added sugars by 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively, by 2015, and remove industrially produced trans fats. Leslie Dach, a Wal-Mart executive vice president, told HuffPo that sodium in packaged bread has been cut by 13 percent, and added sugar in refrigerated flavored milk, popular among kids, has been cut by more than 17 percent.

How successful do you think the Let’s Move program has been?

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