Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Michelle Obama's Child Obesity Campaign: "Our Broad Goal Is To Change The Health Status of an Entire Generation" -- Today Show Video

52 percent of those polled by Today show applaud Mrs. Obama's child obesity campaign.  Video and poll results after the jump...

This morning, Today show's Matt Lauer conducted a wide-ranging interview with First Lady Michelle Obama, in which she discusses life at the White House and her role as First Lady. In the clip above, Mrs. Obama describes her upcoming child obesity campaign, which will be officially launched on Tuesday, Feb. 9. The First Lady talks about the stresses working parents face when making decisions about feeding their kids, and also worries that she'll be regarded as "the food police." That's not her intent at all, Mrs. Obama says, and adds that she's well aware of the guilt working parents often face when making decisions about feeding kids.

“Slowly, we start making choices, kids stop walking, there's fewer opportunities to play, more computer time,” Mrs. Obama said. “Before you know it, you have a problem. So it's not that parents don't care. It's just that we've got to help them.”

Lauer asks Mrs. Obama what kind of calculable effect she hopes her child obesity campaign will have. Three--or seven--years from now, Lauer says, what's the numerical goal for the reduction in the current rate of children who are overweight?

Lauer quotes the rate for child overweight/obesity as 33 percent, but the most recent study from the CDC calculates that 32 percent of American children are overweight, with about 17 percent classified as obese.

"We're still working on benchmarks," Mrs. Obama says, about her campaign. "Because we want to have ambitious goals, but we want to have attainable goals. Our broad goal is going to be to change the health status of an entire generation."

Child obesity is an "imminently solvable" problem, and "doesn't require new technology," Mrs. Obama tells Lauer, which are two catch phrases for the campaign; Mrs. Obama has used the same phrases in her other public remarks during the rollout leading up to next week's launch. She said the same thing yesterday, when she gathered with lawmakers and Cabinet Secretaries for a meeting at the White House to hear their input on her campaign. Watch Mrs. Obama's full Today interview here.

As an accompaniment to Mrs. Obama's Today interview, Food Initiative Coordinator Sam Kass, who has crafted much of Mrs. Obama's child obesity policy, made his morning television debut on Today. Kass gave Al Roker a healthy cooking lesson, joined by kids from DC's Bancroft Elementary School. Students form Bancroft have been child helpers in Mrs. Obama's now-famous White House Kitchen Garden.

Today show is running an online poll about the child obesity campaign
Readers can respond to the question Do you think Michelle Obama's initiative to combat childhood obesity will make a difference?

There's no option for simply "yes" or "no" or "undecided." Instead, readers have to choose between three responses that include editorializing:

1. Yes, and I hope she makes changes in our schools. Kids need more recess and gym time.

2. No, I think its just political talk and I'm doubtful it will make a difference in my family's daily life.

3. Possibly. I'm hopeful she can help us all make changes, but I hope it doesn't take years to get there. Kids need help now!

Of more than 2,100 respondents to the poll, 52.9% chose "yes +" 32.2 percent chose "no +," and 14.9 percent chose "possibly +."

Related: The President's 2011 budget includes funding for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative. The pre-launch of Mrs. Obama's child obesity initiative: On Tuesday, the First Lady met with lawmakers and Cabinet Secretaries at the White House to discuss the campaign. Last week, Mrs. Obama had a mini-summit at a Virginia YMCA about child obesity; a video of the event is here, and the full transcript of the First Lady's remarks is here. Two weeks ago, Mrs. Obama addressed the US Conference of Mayors on the subject of child obesity. During his State of the Union address, President Obama focused the national spotlight on Mrs. Obama's upcoming campaign. Read about Surgeon General Regina Benjamin's report on combating obesity here. A post about the Healthy Kids Fair at the White House is here.