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'Do Your Part,' Michelle Obama Says on 'Let's Move' First Anniversary

First Lady Calls for All Americans to Join Child Obesity Fight
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Feb. 9, 2011 -- What's next for Michelle Obama's 1-year-old Let's Move program to fight the child obesity epidemic?

"What we want to see is more, to challenge everyone to do more. We need more parents engaged: stepping up and changing habits and behaviors, and looking for the advice and sharing their best practices with other families," Obama said in a news teleconference held prior to the Atlanta speech marking the first anniversary of Let's Move.

"Sometimes as parents we are just plain tired," Obama said during her speech. "But don't give up. Keep fighting. Change things at home but also in your neighborhoods and schools. ... We have a voice, and when we come together to use that voice we can change things."

In her speech, the first lady looked back on what Let's Move has accomplished -- and looked forward to what still needs to be done to curb the U.S. explosion of child obesity.

What has the program accomplished so far?

"We are starting to see a fundamental shift in the conversation about how we eat and how we grow and get our food," Obama said. "We have seen a hopeless scenario turn into hope. We have seen a nationwide movement -- and we are calling it a movement -- to see kids across our country have everything they need to be healthy."

Child obesity expert Stephanie Walsh, MD, medical director of child wellness at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, says the program already is a success. And she agrees with Obama that it's becoming a movement rather than just another government program.

"Her focus on this issue has really brought this to the forefront in everybody's mind. So many people have worked on this for so long, and it is now a movement," Walsh tells WebMD. "She is supporting our efforts."

Most importantly, kids are getting with the program.

"What is really neat is my patients come in and say, 'The first lady says we should move more,' or, 'In my school, we are talking about the first lady,'" Walsh says. "It is making movement more positive -- it isn't painful, it's fun."

"obesity" and "fun" are words not often used in the same sentence. WebMD asked Obama what she's doing to engage children.

"We need to make sure kids understand exercise is the secret code word for play," Obama said. "You don't have to join a sports league or run on a treadmill. For some, it is turning on the radio and dancing in the living room, or running with your pet. Exercise should be fun, and it will take all of us to send those messages. Then we will see more folks stepping up to engage kids."


Michelle Obama: Let's Move Achievements, Goals

Obama listed a number of things Let's Move has accomplished in its first year:

  • Expanded the "Healthier US School Challenge" program that awards schools for promoting nutrition and physical activity.
  • Began the "Chefs Move to Schools" program that has paired 2,000 professional chefs with schools to make healthier menus and prepare healthier foods.
  • Signed up more than 450 mayors and local officials for Let's Move Cities and Towns, a commitment to make and achieve a plan for local actions to fight child obesity.
  • Saw Congress pass the Hunger-Free Schools Act to improve the quality of school meals for millions of children.
  • Partnered with a wide range of businesses, sports leagues, and other groups. For example, Walmart has agreed to reduce the price of healthier foods.

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