For Michelle Obama, obesity awareness and prevention has become more than a worthy cause. "This isn't just a policy issue for me. This is a passion. This is my mission. I am determined to work with folks across this country to change the way a generation of kids thinks about food and nutrition," the First Lady announced in March 2010. Her public awareness campaign, Let's Move, has set a goal of solving the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. It's clear to Michelle Obama: Obesity is a crisis, and one that must be addressed aggressively.
Michelle Obama Obesity Campaign Components
Let's Move has four areas of focus:
- Healthy Choices: better nutrition labeling, a revamped food pyramid, and regular monitoring of children's BMI
- Healthier Schools: reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act for improved school lunches; expansion of the Healthier US Schools Challenge
- Physical Activity: modernize the President's Physical Fitness Challenge program and increase participation; partner with professional athletes to encourage 60 minutes of active play daily
- Access to Affordable Healthy Food: Address the problem of "food deserts," urban and rural areas without access to affordable, nutritious foods
Michelle Obama Obesity Campaign Timeline
- 3/20/2009: Michelle Obama and Washington, DC, students break ground on the White House's organic kitchen garden.
- 10/23/2009: Michelle Obama hosts Healthy Kids Fair at the White House.
- 2/9/2010: President Barack Obama creates childhood obesity task force; Mrs. Obama kicks off obesity awareness campaign, Let's Move.
- 2/19/2010: Obama administration releases details of the $400 million Healthy Food Financing Initiative, which will bring grocery stores and other healthy food retailers to underserved urban and rural communities.
- 3/1/2010: Michelle Obama speaks at the School Nutrition Association's annual Legislative Action conference.
- 3/16/2010: Michelle Obama speaks at Grocery Manufacturers Association conference.
- 4/20/2010: A report from a group of retired military leaders says childhood obesity is a "threat to national security" and calls for, among other actions, improved school nutrition.
- 5/11/2010: Michelle Obama hosts press conference to announce the release of the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity report.
- 5/25/2010: Michelle Obama kicks off the "South Lawn Series." Throughout the summer, the White House will host events bringing local children, sports leagues, community programs and coaches to the South Lawn to participate in sports, games, and activities.
- 6/4/2010: Michelle Obama gathers hundreds of chefs at the White House to ask them to adopt a school, in a program called Chefs Move to Schools. She asked the chefs to work with the teachers, parents, nutritionists, and administrators at their adopted schools, to improve menus and help kids learn about healthy foods.
- 6/11/2010: At the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Oklahoma City, First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announce the creation of Let's Move Cities and Towns. The campaign lists more than 40 ways mayors can help improve health and fitness in their cities and towns.
- 6/22/2010: President Obama signs an executive order renaming the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. It will now be known as the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. Council members advise the President, through the Secretary of Health and Human Services, about opportunities to develop accessible, affordable and sustainable physical activity, fitness, sports and nutrition programs for all Americans regardless of age, background, or ability.
- 6/23/2010: Sam Kass, White House assistant chef and Food Initiative Coordinator, appears on reality show "Top Chef" to judge a school-lunch challenge. The show's contestants learned how difficult it is to create a tasty, healthy meal that appeals to kids—on a budget of just $2.60 per meal.
- 9/7/2010: Let's Move announces the Recipes for Healthy Kids Challenge. The challenge asks "chefs, students, parents, and school nutrition professionals to develop tasty, nutritious, kid-approved foods." Winning recipes will earn their teams prizes of $1,500 to $3,000, and the top 10 will be published in a cookbook.
- 9/29/2010: Apps for Healthy Kids winners are announced.
- 10/15/2010: Five grantees of the Healthy Food Financing Initiative are announced. Almost $3.5 million will be awarded to help bring healthy, affordable food to Washington, DC; Springfield, MA; Wiscasset, ME; Louisville, KY; and Coachella, CA.
- 11/22/2010: Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools launches at event in Miami, Florida. The National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance, the Food, Family, Farming Foundation, and the United Fresh Produce Association will give new salad bars to 6,000 schools.
- 12/1/2010: Michelle Obama presents new Let's Move initiative, Let's Move Faith and Communities. Its toolkit offers ideas for congregations and communities that want to promote healthy eating and fitness, as well as reduce hunger.
- 5/23/2011: Let's Move announces Let's Move Museums and Gardens in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The effort will promote and support interactive exhibits, after-school and summer programming, and food services that help kids learn about fitness and nutrition.
- 7/20/2011: Michelle Obama announces a new commitment to provide healthy foods from three large retailers and several regional ones. Walgreens, SuperValu, Walmart, and three smaller companies promise to open or expand 1,500 stores to address the problem of food deserts in urban and rural areas.
- 9/6/2011: Judith S. Palfrey, MD, a pediatrician and former head of the American Academy of Pediatrics, becomes the executive director of Let's Move. "It was my children's pediatrician who first told me that I needed to pay closer attention to my children's health so I understand the significance doctors play in family health," said Michelle Obama as she announced Dr. Palfrey's appointment. "That's why we are eager to welcome Judy Palfrey to the White House where I know that she will take the Let's Move! program to new heights."
- 5/29/2012: Michelle Obama's first book is published. American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America (compare prices) includes a history of the White House garden, tips for community and school gardeners, and recipes featuring fresh fruit and vegetables.
- 8/21/2012: Michelle Obama hosts the first ever Kids' State Dinner, to celebrate healthy lunch recipes and menus created by kids from all over the U.S.