Politics

Michelle Obama to wield influence over America’s diet

Michelle Obama unveiled the newly-expanded President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition to D.C. school children last week. For years the Council (formerly known merely as the President’s Council on Fitness and Sports) busied itself with pushing Americans to get outside and run around. But as with so many government initiatives under the Obama administration, its goals have expanded. The council now wants to influence your diet and while not a member, Michelle Obama will be working closely with the group to help guide its initiatives.

All of which leads to the obvious question: What exactly does Michelle Obama eat? Is the nation’s nutritionist living up to her own preaching? Or is she the Ted Haggard of healthy eating? When exactly was the last time she opened a can of Pringles?

Alas, her staff won’t say. “Thank you for contacting the Office of the First Lady regarding information on the First Lady’s diet for your upcoming article,” read an e-mail to The Daily Caller. “We regret to inform you that we are not able to accommodate your request at this time.”

Though the administration eschews transparency when it comes to Obama’s own diet, it is moving full force ahead with their goals to influence the rest of the country’s food choices.

In February the first lady began a two-front assault on obesity by accompanying the launch of her “Let’s Move” campaign (to promote healthy and active lifestyles for kids) with a Presidential Memorandum signed by her husband to create the First Task Force on Childhood Obesity. “Within 90 days, the task force will conduct a review of every single program and policy relating to child nutrition and physical activity and develop a national action plan that maximizes federal resources and sets concrete benchmarks toward the first lady’s national goal,” the White House Press release announced.

The task force came back in May with 70 recommendations, among them: reducing digital “screen time” for children and eliminating it for those under 2 years, encouraging breast-feeding, setting stricter licensing standards to include nutrition and activity guidelines for childcare providers, setting regulations on the marketing of certain foods to children, having pediatricians measure and track children’s Body Mass Index (BMI), forcing companies to display labels on the front of the packaging, pumping money into eliminating “food deserts” (or “areas that are more than a mile from a supermarket “) and “swapping out deep-fryers for salad bars” in school systems.

Obama plans to take her initiative all the way into your home and onto your dinner table. “We just need everyone to do their part — and it’s going to take everyone. No one gets off the hook on this one — from governments to schools, corporations to non-profits, all the way down to families sitting around their dinner table,” she said at the public release of the Task Force on Obesity’s report in May.

With the first lady’s introduction of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, Obama appears to be getting even closer to becoming the country’s very first food-choice svengali. According to its website, the council is charged with reporting to 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.”

The first lady’s communications director, Camile Johnston explained Mrs. Obama’s official involvement with the council to The Daily Caller, “The council and its members will be integral parts of the ‘Let’s Move!’ campaign. The first lady is not a member of the council, but we do expect that we will work closely with them in the months and years to come.”

Prior to the addition of “nutrition” to its title, the council focused primarily on encouraging physical activity by providing exercise guidelines, research, offering awards, and having citizens, especially school children, participate in the “President’s Challenge.” With the new focus on nutrition, the council will also be promoting healthy eating and seeking to influence public policy with that end in mind.

Currently the council is focused on pushing the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill through Congress, about which Obama said in her launch speech: “this bill controls the programs that provide school lunches to kids all across the country. And what we do know is that our kids are getting most of their activity, most of their nutrition at school.”

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