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              First Lady Michelle Obama speaks during a visit to Orr Elementary in Washington, Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, for a back to school event highlighting healthy changes happening in schools and across the country.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

First lady Michelle Obama to begin pushing water

Photo of Caroline May
Caroline May
Political Reporter

First lady Michelle Obama will be launching a new campaign Thursday to encourage people to drink more water.

“Recently, we’ve been putting a lot of energy into — how do we help encourage simple actions that can really improve the health and wellbeing of kids and parents,” Sam Kass, executive director of Let’s Move!, told reporters on a Wednesday conference call.

The simple action that will improve America’s health: drinking water.

Kass pointed to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control that more than 40 percent of Americans drink less than half of the daily-recommended amounts of water and about 25 percent of children under 19 drink no water on any given day.

According to Kass, the first lady and Partnership for a Healthier America, a nonprofit created “in conjunction” with the first lady’s Let’s Move! campaign, will be rolling out an “unprecedented coalition to inspire and engage the country around a simple action, which is drinking more water.”

The core messages the administration will be pushing include “drinking more water is the best and easiest choice” Americans can make each day, that “we are what we drink,” that “when we drink water we drink up,” and that water is “our original energy drink.”

“This is a really exciting, fun, and very positive campaign that is going to really inspire people to drink more water,” Kass said.

The first lady will be launching the new initiative in Watertown, Wis. with actress Eva Longoria, Partnership for a Healthier America CEO Lawrence Soler, and others.

“One of the main calls to action from the first lady is going to be to make your town a ‘Watertown,’” Kass said, “And Watertown, Wis. — given that they have been voted twice as the best water in Wisconsin — seemed like a great place to come launch this exciting event.”

Soler added that the goal is to incorporate “every aspect of the water community” to help “encourage people to drink more water more often.”

Soler noted that the campaign is intended to be positive and not discouraging people from drinking other beverages — merely pushing water.

The campaign will include public service announcements recorded by the first lady, banner ads, a new website and a social media component featuring #DrinkH2O.

Soler added that “many celebrities” have also signed on to support the effort on social media and noted that private water companies and nonprofits will also be participating.

“We’re working hard to make this work like a product launch, emphasizing the emotional appeal often associated with successful brands, instead of a public health campaign,” he said, adding that he hopes the tagline “drink up” will become the “near ubiquitous reminder to drink more water.”

“This is just the beginning and we expect to have more and more partners join us in the course of the coming months and years ahead,” Kass said, adding that cities like Chicago, Houston, Watertown and Los Angeles have also agreed to promote the initiative.

According to Hannah August, the first lady’s press secretary, television shows will also be encouraging drinking water during their programs Thursday, including “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Nuevo Dia,” “Despierta America,” “The View,” “Live with Kelly and Michael,” “Katie,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” and “The Late Show with David Letterman.” “The Doctors” and “Rachel Ray” will also be pushing water in the coming days.

With water consumption already on the rise, Soler and Kass explained that the hope is keep the trend toward more water.

“We know we have a long way to go but we also think there is an opportunity to have a big impact, largely because there is some momentum here and we think we can build on that trend and really help take it to a whole new level than it otherwise would be,” Cass said.

Of the first lady’s hydration habits, Kass could not offer a specific amount of water but said she “is a water drinker from morning to night.”

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