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First Lady Michelle Obama’s Childhood Obesity Forum: “We Are Going to Need All of You

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First Lady Michelle Obama participates in the Childhood Obesity Summit in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building April 9, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Drew Angerer)

The White House held a Child Obesity Summit this afternoon, attended by food experts, industry leaders, and people from different communities to share and discuss ideas on how to create a healthier environment to combat childhood obesity.

The First Lady, who launched her Let’s Move campaign to address the growing epidemic, gave the opening remarks at the summit, saying that “we all need to do our parts as well, because the fact is, is that our kids didn’t do this to themselves.” At the summit, the First Lady discussed the goals of her childhood obesity initiative and the significance of getting everyone’s input to create a nationwide response to the problem:

We’re working with the private sector to reach a very ambitious goal, and that is to completely eliminate food deserts in this country.

And finally, there is much, much more that we can do to help kids stay physically active, not just in school but outside of school as well.

And if we can make real progress in these four areas, then there’s so much more else we can do.  But these four areas, as a country, we can reach our ultimate goal, and the ultimate goal for “Let’s Move” is to solve the problem of childhood obesity in a generation so that children born today grow up at a healthy weight with better notions of what is healthy, with better habits, who are incorporating exercise into their lives on a more regular basis, so there are more kids like the ones that Melody described, who know what it even means to eat healthy.  That’s our goal.

And to achieve this goal, we are going to need all of you.  We’re going to need all of you — your insight, your experience, your guidance.  And that’s why we are so excited about this gathering here today, because you all know this issue better than just about anyone.  So many of you have dedicated your lives to fighting this battle, and many of you have just — are just thankful that there’s someone else shining the spotlight on what you have known for a long, long time.

This — folks in this room, all of you working together, can do more than just about anyone to help us tackle this issue.  What we have done is started a national conversation.  We’ve started an important national conversation.  But we need your help to propel that conversation into a national response.

The forum’s overall goal was to brainstorm ways to provide healthier choices for children in schools and access to healthy, affordable foods in local communities. The separate sessions focused on ways to empower parents and caregivers, serve healthier food in schools, provide access to healthier foods, and increase opportunities for physical activities. Many ideas were shared, including suggestions to change children’s ways of thinking, begin urban gardening, and provide incentives for people to purchase fruits and vegetables.

To learn more about childhood obesity and how the Administration is working to raise a healthier generation of kids, visit LetsMove.gov.

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First Lady Michelle Obama’s Childhood Obesity Initiative: PepsiCo’s New Focus on Healthier Foods

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First lady Michelle Obama makes remarks at Fairhill Elementary School in Philadelphia, Friday, Feb. 19, 2010. Mrs. Obama's visit to Philadelphia was part of her efforts to curb childhood obesity. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

AP~PepsiCo, largely known for junk-food brands such as Doritos and Pepsi, is setting out to triple its sales of healthier fare in the next decade.

PepsiCo Inc. unveiled the new goal for brands such as Tropicana, Dole, Quaker and Tazo teas on Monday at an investor event. The company also backed its forecast for long-term earnings growth.

Governments around the world are exerting pressure on food makers to improve nutrition. But Pepsi is also making the case that it’s just as much consumer demand that’s driving the changes.

Consumers are heading toward ‘good-for-you,'” PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi said Monday during the meeting.

PepsiCo expects more shoppers to buy based on nutrition as Baby Boomers age and people in developing countries get wealthier. Currently, about 18 percent of PepsiCo’s revenue comes from the lines it considers healthier, including Tropicana, Dole, Quaker and Tazo teas. Nooyi wants to triple $10 billion in revenue from such brands to $30 billion by 2020.

PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi speaks to reporters during the PepsiCo media day and investor expo, Monday, March 22, 2010 in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

That may be a huge boost, but the nutrition business is still small compared with the company’s less-healthy food (it’s using the term “fun for you“) such as Lay’s potato chips and soda, worth $50 billion a year.

Nooyi said the two businesses require different approaches. The chips, soft drinks and other brands grow quickly and can have many different versions of brands, such as lime-flavored Tostitos.

But the nutrition business’ brands must not have too many variations so the brand remains the focus, and they must be led by people who have experience in marketing healthier foods.

The potential for the growth of this market is enormous, and for a player who wants to play in this market intelligently, the opportunities are really incredible,” Nooyi said.

Many health leaders have urged food makers to make such changes. First Lady Michelle Obama has made the fight against childhood obesity a top priority. Last week she asked the nation’s largest food makers at a meeting of the Grocery Manufacturers Association to put less fat, salt and sugar in foods.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Talks Anti-Obesity to Food Giants

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The First Lady Calls for Industry-Wide Effort to Provide Healthier Foods

First Lady Michelle Obama continues her campaign to improve fitness and combat obesity in children as she speaks at the Grocery Manufacturers Association Science Forum meeting in Washington, Tuesday, March 16, 2010. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

AP~Michelle Obama is urging the nation’s largest food companies to speed up efforts to make healthier foods and reduce marketing of unhealthy foods to children.

Obama asked the companies, gathered at a meeting of the Grocery Manufacturers Association on Tuesday, to “step it up” and put less fat, salt and sugar in foods.

We need you not to just tweak around the edges but entirely rethink the products you are offering,” she said.

The first lady has talked to schools and nutrition groups across the country in her effort to reduce childhood obesity. This is the first time she has confronted the food companies that make the snacks and junk food that stuff grocery aisles and school vending machines.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association — which counts Kraft Foods Inc., Coca Cola Co. and General Mills Inc. among its members — invited her to speak at its science forum this week and attendees gave her a standing ovation.

Welcoming the First Lady and embracing her campaign for healthier kids, launched earlier this year, could have advantages. The industry is positioned to take some blows in the coming year, including a child nutrition bill about to move through Congress that could eliminate junk food in schools, digging into some companies’ profits.

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Photos courtesy of AP and the White House

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) represents the world’s leading food, beverage and consumer products companies. The Association promotes sound public policy, champions initiatives that increase productivity and growth and helps ensure the safety and security of consumer packaged goods through scientific excellence. The GMA board of directors is comprised of chief executive officers from the Association’s member companies. The $2.1 trillion food, beverage and consumer packaged goods industry employs 14 million workers, and contributes over $1 trillion in added value to the nation’s economy.

  • Read the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture’s hearing on ‘Child Nutrition,’ March 4, 2010
  • Read the letter from over 40 food and beverage company CEO’s to First Lady Michelle Obama applauding her childhood obesity initiative, February 9, 2010
  • See GMA’s Ad in Politico supporting First Lady Michelle Obama’s anti-childhood obesity campaign, February 9, 2010

Let's Move!“Everyone has a role to play, including government, if we are going to meet the First Lady’s goal of ending childhood obesity within a generation. We look forward to continuing our work with the First Lady, the Obama Administration and Congress to help all Americans build and maintain a healthy diet.”~Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)

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Michelle On A Mission: First Lady Graces Cover of Newsweek Magazine

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How we can empower parents, schools, and the community to battle childhood obesity

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Newsweek/First Lady Michelle Obama~For years, we’ve known about the epidemic of childhood obesity in America. We’ve heard the statistics—how one third of all kids in this country are either overweight or obese. We’ve seen the effects on how our kids feel, and how they feel about themselves. And we know the risks to their health and to our economy—the billions of dollars we spend each year treating obesity-related conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

But we also know that it wasn’t always like this. Back when many of us were growing up, we led lives that kept most of us at a pretty healthy weight. We walked to school every day, ran around at recess and gym and for hours before dinner, and ate home-cooked meals that always seemed to have a vegetable on the plate.

For many kids today, those walks to school have been replaced by car and bus rides. Afternoons playing outside have been replaced with afternoons inside with TV, video-games, and the Internet. And with many parents working longer hours, or multiple jobs, they don’t have time for family meals around the table anymore.

It’s now clear that between the pressures of today’s economy and the breakneck pace of modern life, the well-being of our kids has too often gotten lost in the shuffle.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Teams with US Soccer Foundation, Major League Soccer, Women’s Professional Soccer to Combat Childhood Obesity

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First Lady Michelle Obama (L) participates in a youth soccer clinic with Luis Sanchez (C), a fourth grader of Barnard Elementary School in Washington, and Washington Freedom Soccer Team mascot Glory (R) March 5, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images North America)

In support of her Let’s Move! campaign, the US Soccer Foundation, Major League Soccer, Women’s Professional Soccer, and the National Alliance for Hispanic Health has joined forces with First Lady Michelle Obama to eliminate childhood obesity in one generation and commits to getting more children active, playing or moving for 60 minutes a day. On Friday they are holding a soccer clinic in Washington at the City Center DC and the First Lady will be in attendance.

This event is being held to expand outreach and participation in youth soccer and education efforts on the importance of eating well and staying active. After the clinic is finished, U.S. Soccer Foundation and Sport Court® will donate the soccer fields to urban soccer organizations in the U.S. The U.S. Soccer Foundation, the Charitable Arm of Soccer in the U.S., will disassemble and ship the courts to their final destinations.

First Lady Michelle Obama (L) participates in a youth soccer clinic with Luis Sanchez (C), a fourth grader of Barnard Elementary School in Washington, and Washington Freedom Soccer Team mascot Glory (R) March 5, 2010 in Washington, DC. The clinic is to promote the national fight against childhood obesity and in support for the first ladys Lets Move campaign that encourage children to get 60 minutes of active play each day.(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images North America)

The U. S. Soccer Foundation provides grants focused on developing players, coaches and referees and building or enhancing fields and soccer complexes, with a special emphasis on youth in economically disadvantaged urban communities.

MLS W.O.R.K.S. will support the First Lady and the White House by expanding our existing programs and creatively developing new ideas to help fight childhood obesity,” said JoAnn Neale, MLS executive vice president. “Soccer is the perfect sport to keep children active and fit. We are committed to this campaign and will work with our clubs at the grassroots level to increase the accessibility of soccer, support local youth programs and create play spaces to encourage children to engage in physical activity.”

Soccer is the number one sport among America’s youth, with 4 million young boys and girls registered to play across the country.


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First Lady Michelle Obama Takes Let’s Move! Initiative to Jackson, Mississippi

Posted by: Audiegrl

Let’s Move! Mississippi

First Lady Michelle Obama, right, applauds the students of Brinkley Middle School in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, March 3, 2010, before speaking about her healthy schools campaign, Lets Move. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The First Lady traveled to Jackson, Mississippi today to spend time with students, officials and experts discussing a deeply important issue, not just as a First Lady, but as a mother. And that’s childhood obesity. Alongside Governor Barbour and Mississippi’s First Lady, Mrs. Obama toured Pecan Park Elementary school’s walking trail — just one example of the creative work happening across the state to make sure kids stay healthy and active.

Later at Brinkley Middle School, the First Lady discussed state and nationwide efforts to meet these challenges, emphasizing an important goal of the Let’s Move! initiative:

We are trying to end the epidemic of childhood obesity in a generation. That’s a big goal — because we want kids born today to grow up healthy and at a good weight when they reach adulthood. So that’s the goal. And reaching this goal, it’s an ambitious goal to talk about doing anything in a generation. It’s a hard thing. But that’s why we started Let’s Move!, because this initiative is asking everyone in the country to do their part to reach this goal. Everyone has got to do their part.

So, do your part and Let’s Move towards a healthier future. Learn more at LetsMove.gov and stay connected on Facebook. The First Lady’s transcript can be found here.


First Lady Michelle Obama visits Pecan Park Elementary

WLBT~”We love you,” students cheered upon the arrival of First Lady Michelle Obama to Pecan Park Elementary. It’s an inner city school that has been aggressively pursuing fitness and healthy nutrition goals.

I high-fived her, and she high-fived me. She told me great job because I was jump roping very good,” said second grader Vivian Coleman. She was proud of her interaction with Mrs. Obama, while Keunte Sibley was excited about the photograph he made with the first lady.

I’m going to frame it and put it on Facebook,” Keunte said.

For Mrs. Obama, her flats were made for walking on a playground that has continued to expand to meet the needs of more than 500 students.

Pecan Park’s principal guided the tour for Mrs. Obama, Governor Haley Barbour and First Lady Marsha Barbour. “The playground area was not enough to provide everybody the exercise they needed, and we jumped on the bandwagon with ‘Let’s Go Walking, Mississippi’,” Quon said.

First Lady Michelle Obama, right, confers with Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, left, and his wife Marsha Barbour as they tour the walking trail and playground at Pecan Park Elementary School in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, March 3, 2010. Obama will visit two schools in Jackson to promote health and physical activity. Pecan Park principal Wanda Quon, and two students accompanied the Barbours and the First Lady on a walk along the track. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

A similar program to “Let’s Go Walking” was the purpose of the first lady’s visit. She’s promoting the “Let’s Move” campaign.

These programs are not just about fitness. They also tout healthy nutrition. “We talked a little bit about our garden because she has a garden at the White House. She shared how they’ve just harvested the first vegetables from her garden,” Quon said.

Mrs. Obama’s visit was brief, but both Quon and the students said her message will last a long time. “I have to say, it was very, very ,very great!” Vivian said.

After she leaves, the impact will still be here,” Quon said.

For more information about the two programs, click on the following links:

Check out Let’s Go Walking Mississippi

Check out Let’s Move!

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Note: The first nine photos in this gallery are from Brinkley Middle School, and the remaining eleven are from Pecan Park Elementary School. Photo credit: Greg Jenson/The Clarion-Ledger Staff Photographer.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Offers Gratitude and Support for the School Nutrition Association

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First Lady Michelle Obama speaks to SNA

First Lady Michelle Obama speaks to the School Nutrition Association Legislative Action Conference in Washington, Monday, March 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

For decades, we’ve been looking to you for help in achieving our nation’s most urgent priorities,” credited First Lady Michelle Obama, addressing more than 750 attendees of the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) annual Legislative Action Conference, being held this week in Washington, D.C.

The First Lady acknowledged that efforts and achievements of the nation’s school nutrition professionals go largely unrecognized and unacknowledged by many. “There are not a lot of headlines about (how) school meals may be the only meals many children get all day,” she noted. “And most people don’t know how the cafeteria is one of the most important classrooms in the school.”

Mrs. Obama welcomed the partnership of SNA and its 50,000 members in joining her newly launched “Let’s Move” initiative to address childhood obesity.

The School Nutrition Association is honored to have First Lady Michelle Obama recognize the efforts of our school nutrition professionals, proud partners of the Let’s Move campaign. Preparing healthy well-balanced school meals while meeting federal nutrition standards and staying within budget is a tremendous challenge for our cash-strapped school districts,” noted SNA President Dora Rivas, MS, RD, SNS, who also serves as Executive Director of Child Nutrition Services for Dallas (Texas) Independent School District.

This week, SNA is calling on Congress to follow the President and First Lady’s lead and provide school nutrition programs with critical funds for healthy school meals,” continued Rivas. “For the 31 million children who eat school lunch each day, the upcoming re-authorization of the Child Nutrition Act is much more than just another congressional debate. It means nutrition for a hungry child, fuel for a successful school day, a healthy solution for a busy parent and a chance for children to learn about balanced meals and establish lifelong positive eating habits.”

In her address, the First Lady affirmed her understanding and support of many of SNA’s top priorities, including the need for adequate funding, reducing paperwork that presents obstacles to participation, improving the quality of foods served, providing equipment support and ensuring training for school nutrition professionals.

Mrs. Obama also spoke on the intent of the Let’s Move campaign to eliminate all “food deserts”—communities without access to a supermarket—within seven years. She cited statistics that almost one-quarter of the nation’s population lives in such areas, purchasing foods from gas stations and convenience stores. Children can have “the most delicious healthy school lunches, but it won’t help if their families don’t have access to a supermarket.”

She also cited the importance of physical activity as a tent pole in successfully addressing obesity concerns. “We know that healthy eating is only half the battle,” she noted.

The First Lady was extraordinarily complimentary of the efforts of school nutrition professionals working in schools and districts across the country. “You don’t just shape the future of individual students—you shape the future of America,” said Mrs. Obama. “For decades, we have looked to you for help in achieving our nation’s most urgent priorities. Let’s rally the country around a single, ambitious goal that kids born today reach a healthy weight by the time they become adults.”

I am thrilled that you have agreed to work with us to meet this goal,” the First Lady concluded. “We are going to need everything you’ve got. We will need your ideas—both big and small. Let’s be clear, the only way we’re going to solve [the problem of child obesity] is by working together.”

Full remarks by the First Lady

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