What is Obesity?
First Lady answers kids' health questions
When First Lady Michelle Obama invited students to a town hall meeting about childhood obesity, the first question asked was, "What is obesity?"
"It's when people's weight gets higher than it should be," Mrs. Obama said. "Weight and height really depend on you as a person. This is all about making sure that you guys are healthy, that you're eating the right foods, that you're getting enough exercise."
The town hall aired live on C-Span on Wednesday from the State Dining room in the White House. Students from several local schools attended. Kids also emailed and called in questions.
Mrs. Obama talked to the kids about the importance of exercise and healthy eating. About 9 million children are suffering from being overweight, she said. Childhood obesity can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart and lung problems.
To solve the problems of childhood obesity, Mrs. Obama started the "Let's Move" program to educate families about how to live healthier lifestyles. She also hopes to make good food choices available in areas without grocery stores or farmer's markets. But Wednesday was all about education and choices.
"It doesn't require whole scale changes in your life," the First Lady said. "The beauty about kids is that you're young and your metabolisms are really healthy, which essentially means once you start moving and eating right you're going to change really quickly."
When asked by the Scholastic Kids Press Corps how to make "Let's Move" a priority during budget cuts and a tough economy, Mrs. Obama had a ready answer.
"The ‘Let's Move' initiative can work because it's easy and cheap," she said. "If we can get kids moving more, if we can take out sugary drinks, if we can make school lunches better, if we can get you guys educated about what to eat—these are all things we can control. It doesn't take millions of dollars and a whole bunch of legislation to get it done."
The First Family began living the program long before they came to the White House, Mrs. Obama said. With both parents working, she found they were eating out too much, and not getting enough exercise. As a family, they began to cook more, ate desserts on the weekends only, and banned TV during the week.
In the White House, Mrs. Obama planted a kitchen garden and invited kids from a nearby school to help plant, harvest, and cook the vegetables. Getting kids involved in good food and exercise choices is key to making the program work, she said.
"I'm so excited about it [the ‘Let's Move' program], and I'm counting on all of you to help," she said. "If we can get you thinking differently now as middle schoolers and folks headed to college, you are going to enter adulthood with a whole different understanding about nutrition. You're not going to carry these problems into your adulthood and you're going to help your kids learn a bit differently."
The main solution is to learn about better nutrition and exercise and take the lead in your own home to make the necessary changes, she continued.
"It's really about you guys taking responsibility of your own future in so many ways and helping your parents and your families make those kind of decisions," she said. "This isn't about how you look—this isn't about appearances—because we all have to own and be proud of exactly who we are."
For more information about the "Let's Move" program and its four initiatives, log on to the Let's Move website.
NEWS FOR KIDS, BY KIDS
Get the latest on national and international events, movies, television, music, sports, and more from the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.