How Michelle Obama quietly changed what Americans eat

Shortly after President Obama was elected to the White House in 2008, first lady Michelle Obama divulged some sensitive, personal details: The Obama children, Malia and Sasha, were gaining weight.

In interviews and speeches, she described her worry about her family’s health and a pediatrician’s warning that her daughters’ body mass index (BMI) was creeping up.

“Even though I wasn’t exactly sure at that time what I was supposed to do with this information about my children’s BMI,” the first lady said in 2010, “I knew that I had to do something. I had to lead our family to a different way.”

That personal struggle became political. Obama has spent the bulk of her time in the White House doing something unprecedented for a “mom-in-chief”: pushing hard against childhood obesity. Today, her Let’s Move campaign is her highest-profile endeavor, far better known than her Joining Forces campaign to support service members and their families, or Let Girls Learn to advocate for girls’ education around the world.

But I have to admit something: I was skeptical of the influence Obama could have on the nation’s health.

We know obesity is disproportionately caused by overeating rather than a lack of exercise. And the first lady’s initial championing of physical activity — her pushup competitions with Ellen DeGeneres, the dance-offs with Big Bird — seemed like a charming cop-out. She’s also partnered with the very food giants that are synonymous with the problem, such as soda makers. Isn’t that like teaming up with cigarette companies to get kids to stop smoking?

The government has also often exacerbated the problem over the years, in the form of subsidies for pizza- and french fry–filled school lunches, and generally allowing the industry, and not the best available science, to guide nutrition policy.

I wasn’t confident that FLOTUS, with no legislative power, could make a dent.

Then I spoke with a dozen people who worked closely on her campaign, as well as the health and food policy researchers who studied it. (Despite repeated requests, Obama’s office did not grant an interview with the First Lady on childhood obesity — and she has demurred from discussing the details of this work with other members of the press as well.)

I learned that some of the very things that made Michelle Obama sometimes appear soft — the industry collaborations, the emphasis on exercise — were part of the shrewd strategy that made her effective. Through her leadership, the Obama administration seized on a moment when America started paying attention to food, and made fighting obesity a top priority — both symbolically and legislatively.

Obama planted a garden, waged snappy social media campaigns, and worked behind the scenes with researchers, lawmakers, heads of government departments, schools, and food giants to quietly change what Americans eat.

Even observers who previously worried about Obama’s food industry partnerships now called her advocacy “brilliant,” “unprecedented,” and a “godsend.”

“All that attention to the issue has really helped push the discussion forward,” said Kelly Brownell, a Duke University obesity researcher — and former critic.

Observers said this administration — largely because of the first lady’s focus — will have more of an impact on obesity in this country than any other in recent history. (Obama is also the only modern FLOTUS after Hillary Clinton to have a major influence on policy initiatives.)

Marion Nestle, the longtime food policy researcher who was also previously skeptical of the first lady’s approach, is now among the impressed. “This was the first time in my life someone in the White House was interested in the same kinds of issues I’m interested in,” she recently told me. “We’re going to look back in 10, 20 years and wish she were still around.”

Through the force of her leadership, FLOTUS improved school lunches

Michelle Obama eating lunch with kids in Alexandria, Virginia, January 25, 2012. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

There’s near universal agreement among obesity researchers that the fight against obesity is all but lost once people seek help from their doctor to manage their weight.

Diets and medications work for some people whose health is compromised by their weight, but they fail most. Bariatric surgeries offer hope, but they come with real risks. So experts say fighting obesity really means preventing it, long before a person becomes a patient.

Say, in schools.

As recently as 2010, researchers found that schools were commonly serving children the kinds of calorie-dense and nutrient-poor meals — pizza, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, french fries — that increase kids’ risk of obesity instead of helping them avoid weight gain.

Many low-income families rely on schools to feed their children at least one meal a day. (School lunches, and even breakfasts, are free for families with incomes that fall a certain percentage below the poverty line.) So offering kids nutritionally bankrupt meals, and driving up their risk of chronic diseases, isn’t just a nutrition problem; it’s a social justice issue, too.

Through consultation with some of the nation’s top obesity experts, Michelle Obama zeroed in on solving the school lunch problem. And that’s where the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 came in: legislation centered on cleaning up school food. Getting the act passed — and keeping it in place — became a key focus of the Let’s Move campaign.

The law required the federal government to use recommendations from the Institute of Medicine to make the National School Lunch Program more nutritious, with more whole grains, a wider variety of fruits and vegetables, and less sodium and meat.

The law also mandated that schools stop marketing the fat-, sugar-, and salt-laden snacks — the sugary beverages, the chocolate bars — in cafeterias and vending machines, and that they replace those offerings with lower-calorie and more nutritious alternatives like fruit cups and granola bars. Finally, it made it possible for schools that have high poverty rates among students to provide free breakfasts in addition to lunches, without requiring paperwork on whether individual students meet certain poverty criteria.

But the act didn’t pass easily. GOP leaders said it was emblematic of the nanny state. The School Nutrition Association — which receives funding from the food industry — argued that it would cost schools a lot of money to implement, and that kids threw out some of the fruits and vegetables the schools were required to put on their lunch trays.

This fight continues today. “Every time there’s an appropriation bill, there’s been an aggressive attempt to roll back the reforms we made,” said Sam Kass, the former White House assistant chef whom Michelle Obama hired to be a nutrition policy adviser and executive director of Let’s Move.

So how did Michelle Obama manage such a contentious change?

First, she got her husband on board with the Let’s Move campaign, and he made childhood obesity and pushing for legislation like the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act a priority for the administration. “The reason the president was pushing was this was priority,” Kass said. “So all credit goes to her on that. But the president runs the administration, so if he says, ‘This is our priority,’ it’s everyone’s job to get it done.”

New salad bars at the Montrose County school district in Colorado. Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

As Politico explained it, “The day the Let’s Move! campaign launched, the president put out an executive order creating the first-ever national task force on childhood obesity, which would be led by his Domestic Policy Council and work in tandem with the first lady’s campaign.” About a dozen federal agencies started to work on the report’s 70-plus recommendations.

That included the USDA, which administers the school lunch program.

“She had all the levers of the Obama administration at her disposal, from the White House Policy Council through to all the agencies,” said Sean McBride, a consultant to the food industry in Washington who previously worked with the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Of course, the bill went through in an era when there was already a growing awareness that Americans needed to “eat food, not too much, mostly plants,” as author Michael Pollan put it. Many in the health community were already talking about cleaning up the food in schools.

But while food advocates had been working on these issues for years, they say they couldn’t overcome the political hurdles until the Obama White House.

“When we were pushing through ,” said Margo Wootan, a longtime nutrition advocate and director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest who was involved with the bill, “that was the first time I actually worked closely with White House legislative staff — not only in the East Wing but in the West Wing as well.”

There were also frequent sit-downs with the USDA, schools, industry representatives, and lawmakers — talking through the content of the regulations and plotting how to fend off opposition. Obama herself, Wootan said, helped “smooth things over with some members of Congress .”

As Kass said, “The bill would not have passed without both the first lady and the president personally getting involved and making that bill pass.” (Kass also helped the First Lady build the iconic White House Kitchen Garden in 2009 — the first at the residence since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory garden.)

Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids is now widely considered a landmark piece of legislation and a boon for public health. As Juliana Cohen, a nutrition professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, points out, the National School Lunch Program feeds more than 30 million children every day — and the majority come from poor families who rely on these meals for up to half their daily energy intake.

It will take years to know how much this legislation moves the needle on childhood obesity. But early measures suggest promise. According to the USDA, as of December 2015, 97 percent of US schools are now meeting the new standard. Researchers who have studied the impact of the law have been finding that kids across the country are now eating more produce and whole grains.

Obama helped clean up the $350 billion market of packaged foods

First lady Michelle Obama unveiling the new nutrition facts labels. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

In addition to her leadership and behind-the-scenes maneuvering, the first lady managed to influence food policy by maintaining a positive public image. That involved assembling a staff around her who could carry out Let’s Move’s ambitions on her behalf.

As the symbolic figure head and leader of the campaign, “Obama stayed above the fray,” McBride said, leaving her staff, along with the Domestic Policy Council, to transmit Let’s Move’s goals to the federal agencies. “The leaders of those agencies took over and carried the ball,” he added.

Among the most prominent of her staff members was Kass. “Sam was the tactical leader, the manifestation of the first lady’s food policy goals, and generally those goals were set by the White House,” said McBride. In Kass’s own words, “My role was negotiating in the policy nitty-gritty and with the companies. Her role was to set the vision.”

Part of that vision included bringing more transparency to what’s in our packaged food. At Obama’s urging, the agency enacted one of the most dramatic overhauls to nutrition labels in decades. And last May, Obama was the one who announced the final version of new food labels, which is slated to appear on everything from sodas to candy bars, yogurts, and cereal packages starting in 2018.

The labels will finally give consumers long-sought-after information about added sugars in foods — data that health advocates had pressed the food and beverage industry to provide for decades. They’ll also list nutrition information about serving sizes in portions that more accurately reflect how much people eat.

More subtly, the new labels are expected to get companies to reformulate products to make them healthier and less sugary.

Another milestone came in June 2015, when the FDA bannedtrans fats from the food supply within three years. The policy brought the US in line with other countries that have already banned the harmful fat, including Denmark, Austria, Iceland, and Switzerland. And it came long after scientific evidence had mounted for years that these processed unsaturated fats increase the risk for heart attacks and strokes.

“The FDA made nutrition a priority ,” Wootan summed up.

Before the trans fat ban turned into a federal policy, Michelle Obama, along with Sam Kass, had already been working with companies, like Walmart, to get them to pledge to remove trans fats (along with reducing sodium and sugar) from products sold in their stores and to bring affordable, nutritious foods to food deserts by opening new stores.

Part of that collaboration with companies came through the Partnership for a Healthier America, which launched in conjunction with (but independent from) the Let’s Move campaign. In effect, the group is the outreach arm of Let’s Move and its partners include industry groups, as well as nonprofits and research institutions.

Among the partnership’s wins has been getting food companies — such as PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and General Mills — to commit to cutting calories from the food supply. At the latest count in April, it had already removed 6.4 trillion calories (or 78 calories per person) by reformulating products and shrinking serving sizes.

Lawrence Soler, PHA president and CEO, says these gains have come as a result of a positive feedback loop that starts with Michelle Obama.

“People have responded to her message and to her as a messenger in a very real way,” Soler said. “The fact that consumers are looking at food and physical activity in a new way has transformed where industry is going. And the Industry is responding to this enhanced consumer interest in changed products, healthier alternatives, and more of a focus on health.”

The shrewd choice of promoting water instead of attacking Big Soda

First lady Michelle Obama unveils the Drink Up logo to encourage water consumption on the South Lawn of the White House in 2014. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Even with all her charisma and determination, the first lady’s close work with the food industry has also attracted criticism over the years. “If you look at the food industry players Let’s Move has been engaged with, they are some of the same players that are manufacturing products that contribute a lot of calories to the American diet,” Brownell said.

These companies need to maintain their market share while being perceived to be helpful and instructive, he added. “So critics would say the industry is using this as cover — a show of good faith — trying to make changes when they are really not doing so much.”

Early in her obesity work, Obama called on food companies to stop marketing junk food to children. But in 2011, the administration tried (and failed) to pass voluntary guidelines that would have curtailed the food industry’s ability to peddle to kids.

“The industry opposed it more vigorously than anything I’ve worked on in 20 years,” said Wootan, “even though it was voluntary. And the administration at first pushed back then gave into the industry lobbying effort.”

(Kass says there was nothing more the administration could do since the guidelines fall under the Federal Trade Commission, which the White House does not control.)

According to a Reuters investigation, the food industry responded to Obama’s focus on obesity by doubling spending on lobbying between 2010 and 2012 alone.

” is a topic where collaborating with industry isn’t going to work,” Brownell said. “Food companies desperately want to maintain their ability to market foods to children.”

On the flip side, he added, working with the food industry may have been a wise choice as another avenue through which Obama could change how we eat. “If make changes,” Brownell said, “that could affect a lot of people all at the same time.”

William Dietz, a longtime obesity researcher who helped identify the obesity epidemic in the US while at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Obama was particularly savvy in her industry collaboration. There’s plenty of scientific evidence that sugary drinks contribute to obesity, tooth decay, and diabetes, but Obama chose to promote water instead of warning parents and kids against the sweet stuff.

“She hasn’t directly attacked sugar,” Dietz added. “I think what’s made her effective is that’s she’s focused on a number of public health initiatives without demonizing any particular product.”

Former White House chef Sam Kass, pictured here with the first lady and schoolchildren, did a lot more than plant the White House garden. Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

Looking back, Kass said, he sees this approach as part of Michelle Obama’s core philosophy. She wanted to both “create a space that anybody who was serious about becoming a part of the solution had a seat at the table” and move past the gridlock and finger-pointing that characterized many public health food fights.

This set Obama’s team apart from other obesity advocates, said Susan Neely, president and CEO of the American Beverage Association.

“They decided that rather than lambasting industry or criticizing industry, they should invite companies or the private sector to participate, and I think they made it clear the bar was going to be high in terms of what legitimate participation would look like,” she noted.

Then there was the smart choice of a name. Marion Nestle noted that she used to be concerned that the slogan placed too much of an emphasis on physical activity and was too soft on the food industry.

But “Let’s Move” can be interpreted different ways, and now Nestle sees it as an important political calculation. “It’s very hard to say would have been better off taking on the food industry in a more direct way. She had no power to do that — no legislative power — and nothing but leadership to go on,” she says.

That didn’t mean she was soft on the industry, however. As Obama put it in a 2010 speech to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, kids are unhealthy, eating too much sugar and too many snacks, and those changes have come largely because of the industry. (The Grocery Manufacturers Association declined to comment for this story.)

Nestle called that early speech “extraordinary” and still wonders if the first lady knew the fierce lobbying and “near impossible circumstances” she’d be up against as she tried to steer America’s eating habits in a healthier direction.

Kass views the speech as Obama’s message to the industry that “the status quo is unacceptable, families are suffering, and in areas where the food industry was undermining public health, we are going to fight like hell to the end.”

The next White House administration should build on Obama’s legacy

Even those who are now leveling heaps of praise on the first lady acknowledge that preventing obesity will require much more fundamental shifts.

American diets on average still fall dramatically short of the minimum nutrition standards, particularly for fruit and vegetable consumption. And researchers have pointed out that if Americans actually followed the US dietary guidelines and started to eat the volume and variety of fruits and vegetables health officials recommend, we wouldn’t have nearly enough to meet consumer demand.

Javier Zarracina/Vox

Nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables are still more costly than fats, grains, and sugars, and we’re bombarded with messages to eat more junk foods and snacks. As recently as 2014, food companies spent $1.28 billion on snack food advertising — and the bulk of that went to the salty and sugary options.

The result is that while rates of childhood obesity have leveled off by some measures, they haven’t reversed. And adults are becoming more obese.

“In a perfect world, you’d try to address some of the big issues, such as marketing of food to kids and the relative costs of healthy and unhealthy foods,” Brownell said.

Javier Zarracina/Vox

Governments could do this through taxes on junk foods, bans on junk food marketing to children, and efforts to shift which crops are the subject of federal research funding and subsides away from corn and wheat — which go into processed foods — and toward fresh produce.

Tackling America’s obesity problem needs to involve more than making junk foods more healthy; it needs to make healthy food more visible and available, said Michael Moss, author of the book Salt Sugar Fat.

“As much as I’ve harped on the companies about salt, sugar, fat, reducing the salt, sugar, fat in their products — as they are now all doing — is probably not the priority for a healthier diet,” Moss said. “Adding good stuff is much harder than shrinking the bad.”

Looking back, Kass hopes people appreciate how challenging improving the food environment is. “What people don’t understand is just how hard change really is, how hard every right and every victory comes — particularly in this day and age, with Congress deadlocked and cynicism at all-time highs.”

Overcoming that cynicism — while also building on Michelle Obama’s legacy — is the challenge the next administration inherits.

Fox News Contributor Can’t Stop Telling Michelle Obama to Lose Weight

Regular Fox News contributor, Dr. Keith Ablow, a board-certified psychiatrist, took the metaphorical cake Tuesday when he assured the hosts of Outnumbered they need not heed Michelle Obama’s suggestions to pack kale and blueberries in their kids’ lunch boxes. No, not because ketchup is produce. Because of the even more ludicrous argument that FLOTUS is out of shape.

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“How well could she be eating? She needs to drop a few,” said Ablow, literally provoking an “OOOOOO” response from shocked FOX hosts.

Try as the women of FOX might to extricate themselves (“I am at a loss for words,” “Oh you did not just say that”), Ablow preserved: “Let’s be honest, there’s no french fries ever, that’s all kale and carrots? I don’t buy it…She’s up at night in the White House kitchen.”

And he’s still fighting the good fight, defending his initial claims to Politico on Wednesday, “It happens to be the case that the First Lady during her tenure has not been consistently a picture of fitness. That’s all, it is just a fact.”

It’s unclear as to whether Ablow spoke to Obama’s doctors about things like her resting heart rate, her blood pressure and cholesterol level, or if he was just doing an evaluation of her fitness and late-night eating habits from afar based how he thought her clothes fit. (The fit is impeccable, I might add).

But should he want to share any more “facts” about Mrs. Obama, here are some things he might want to consider beforehand:

-You can be skinny and unhealthy

-The occasional french fry does not negate a generally healthy diet

-Even if we lived in a hypothetical world in which Michelle Obama didn’t look like she could bench press Ablow, her body should have absolutely no bearing on her platform against childhood obesity. And it’s worrisome that a medical professional sees no problem making judgments about this, or any woman’s body in service of a political argument.

-Also, Michelle Obama is a fitness goddess. People even do specialized workouts specifically to emulate her body.

First lady Michelle Obama and U.S. President Barack Obama wave Win McNamee—Getty Images

Maybe Albus should stick with his side job of writing crime thrillers. One of which so happens to be titled Projection.

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The Making of Michelle Obama

By David DeLuca, Spartan Editor

Welcome to #BlackHistoryMonth, a month dedicated to the manifold achievements of Black Americans. To start off, we’re going to highlight a living Black leader who shares our mission to rip people off the couch and get America eating healthy food: former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Michelle Obama was born Michelle LaVaughn Robinson in Chicago in 1964. Her father was a city pump operator and her mother was a secretary, and they poured everything they had into Michelle’s education. As a result, she excelled in school and graduated from high school second in her class. In 1981, she followed her older brother to Princeton to study sociology. She graduated cum laude, and then went on to earn her JD at Harvard Law School in 1988.

Talk about a running start.

Michelle Crushes It in the Public Sector

After law school, Michelle landed her first job working in the intellectual property department at the Chicago branch of the firm Sidley Austin. While working there, she was assigned as an adviser to a summer intern named Barack, who later became her husband. After their marriage, Michelle left her job as a lawyer to work in the public sector, where she crushed a number of high-profile responsibilities:
1991: assistant to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, then as the assistant commissioner of planning and development for the City of Chicago.

  • 1993: Executive director for the Chicago office of Public Allies, a non-profit that teaches leadership skills to young people who want to work in the public sector
  • 1996: Associate dean of student services at the University of Chicago — developed the school’s first community-service program
  • 2002: Executive director of community relations and external affairs at University of Chicago Hospitals
  • 2005: Vice president for community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Medical Center

By 2007, Michelle’s husband Barack had started his campaign for the democratic nomination for President, so she scaled back her work to make room for other obligations. In 2012, when Barack was campaigning for re-election, Michelle traveled around the country on his behalf, working tirelessly to promote his campaign.

Endurance? Check.

Grit? Check.

True North? See next section.

The Success of Let’s Move!

As First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama made it her mission to solve the problem of childhood obesity in America. Like any Spartan, she understood that ending the obesity epidemic wasn’t that complicated. Most importantly, it involved getting kids to eat healthy food and get off the couch—i.e., the Let’s Move! initiative.

(Photo credit: Win McNamee / Today)

Here’s what Michelle Obama accomplished over 8 years with Let’s Move!:

  • Increased nutrition funding in American public schools, which provided more than 50 million kids with better, affordable food options.
  • Blocked any food or beverage from public schools that didn’t meet nutrition standards.
  • Started a program called Let’s Move! Active Schools that helps public schools to create more physically active curriculums.
  • Helped 2 million kids in 2016 get basic athletic training with the help of the US Olympic Team.
  • Created the Every Kid in a Park program, which offers fourth-graders and their families free entry to America’s national parks.
  • Revised the nutrition facts labels on food items marketed to kids so that they would be easier to read.
  • Launched MyPlate, which aims to help kids to make healthier food choices.
  • Added salad bars to public school cafeterias for 3 million kids.

Michelle Obama has demonstrated her commitment to the health of American kids. Her outstanding work serves as a reminder that getting Americans off their couches and into the produce section isn’t going to happen on its own. Large-scale change takes large-scale action, day-in and day-out, and it never stops. That’s why Spartan makes a space for kids at our races: the Spartan Kids Race.

We’ll close our first #BlackHistoryMonth post with this quote from the former First Lady, which she delivered at the Democratic National Convention:

“There are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history yet to be made.”

(Top photo credit: LetsMove.gov)

Michelle Obama Shared a Glimpse of Her #SelfCareSunday at the Gym

Michelle Obama is giving fans a rare sneak peek into her workout routine. The former First Lady took to Instagram on Sunday to show off her strength in a photo of her at the gym, alongside a caption encouraging followers to make self-care a priority.

Image zoom MediaNews Group/Getty Images

“It doesn’t always feel good in the moment,” she wrote below the photo, which shows her looking focused in a lunge position, holding a large medicine ball overhead. “But after the fact, I’m always glad I hit the gym.”

She then addressed her followers directly, asking: “How did you all take care of yourself on this #SelfCareSunday?”

Naturally, several of Obama’s celebrity friends were quick to comment on her post. “Yesssss,” Tess Holliday wrote, adding a prayer emoji. One Tree Hill alum Sophia Bush, on the other hand, cheered Obama on, writing: “Okaaaaay,” with several fire, clapping, and explosion emojis.

Plenty of regular folks commented too, sharing how they got their bodies moving over the weekend. “The goal is that every morning I go for a two-mile walk. I make it 6/7 days on average,” one person wrote. “Rested and Epsom salt bath after my first half marathon yesterday,” shared another user.

While Obama may not regularly share her gym sessions on the ‘Gram, she’s still been known to dedicate a lot of her free time to fitness—even when she was crazy-busy as First Lady while her husband, Barack Obama, was in office.

In an interview with NPR, Cornell McClellan, her former trainer, shared how even on the most hectic days, Obama always made exercise a priority. “One of the things that I noticed initially is that this was something that was important and that she prioritized and found a way to fit it in,” he said. “I remember that when I was working with her all those many years ago, you know, she would be in the gym sometimes at 4:30, 5 o’clock in the morning.” Talk about dedication. (Related: 8 Health Benefits of Morning Workouts)

Obama, who famously launched the Let’s Move! public health campaign in an effort to reduce childhood obesity has also been known to host bootcamp workouts with her girlfriends. The focus of the experience isn’t just about being active; it’s also about spending time together and practicing some much-needed self-care. “My girlfriends have been there for me through all kinds of life transitions over the years—including a pretty big one recently,” she shared on Instagram back in 2017. “And we’ve done our best to stay healthy together. Whether it’s a bootcamp or a walk around the neighborhood, I hope you and your crew can find some time this summer to be healthy together.” (Related: How to Make Time for Self-Care When You Have None)

More recently, during a conversation at the Essence Festival in New Orleans, Obama opened up about the importance of prioritizing your well-being as a woman, especially if you find yourself taking care of others more often than yourself. “We have to own our health. It’s one of these things that no one can take from you,” she said on stage while speaking to CBS News anchor Gayle King, according to People. “When it comes to our health as women, we are so busy giving and doing for others that we almost feel guilty to take that time out for ourselves.”

“I think for us as women, many of us, we have a hard time putting ourselves on our own priority list, let alone at the top of it,” she added. “If we don’t have our act together as women, as mothers, as grandmothers, we aren’t going to be able to get our kids on track.”

Obama’s Weight Loss Program & Health Reform

President Barack Obama has released a memorandum outlining the importance of combating childhood obesity. In it, the President outlines strategies to address weight issues in the nation’s youth. Public outreach and the formation of a task force are central to this initiative. First Lady Michelle Obama takes a lead role in bringing national awareness concerning this epidemic through the Let’s Move organization. She works with public, nonprofit, and private sectors to support measures to address childhood obesity. Let’s Move also focuses on working with families and communities.
Approximately 30% of children in the USA are overweight. This rate has doubled in young children and has tripled for adolescents since 1980. It is estimated that at least one third of today’s youth will suffer from diabetes and others will contract other obesity related illnesses including high blood pressure and heart disease. The presidential directive states that immediate action is required. As such, the directive focuses on preventing obesity related illnesses and consequential burdens on the nation’s healthcare system.

The memorandum establishes a task force which focuses on parent nutritional education, physical exercise, and affordable food options in schools and communities. The task force includes cabinet members such as the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, and Education. The Assistant to the President and the Chief of Staff to the First Lady are also included in the task force. The task force will focus on federal responses to the obesity crisis as well as nongovernmental actions that can be implemented. Special attention will be given to healthy, affordable food; increased physical activity in schools and communities, healthier food in schools, and informing parents and caregivers concerning healthy choices. Let’s Move takes up these initiatives and actively works to achieve these health related goals.

Building on this momentum, the new health reform law requires that chain restaurants and vending machines with more than 20 locations to label food calorie information. The new health reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed recently by President Obama provides funding for a childhood obesity reduction project. The health reform law identifies obesity reduction as an important method to prevent illness. As such, obesity related services take an important role in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and obesity related healthcare is cited multiple times in the 2,393 page law. Educational and counseling services as well as community funding for projects to end obesity are included in the new law.

President Bill Clinton’s foundation, in conjunction with the American Heart Association, created the Alliance for a Healthier Generation which shares the same goals as the Obama initiative. Partnership for a Healthier America is a foundation newly formed to combine multiple nonpartisan efforts to fight obesity. This new foundation combines efforts with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, The California Endowment, Kaiser Permanente, Nemours, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. First Lady Michelle Obama serves as Honorary Chair and both a prominent Republican and a prominent Democrat will be named as Honorary Vice Chairs to underscore the organization’s nonpartisan position.
The bipartisan and nonpartisan fitness initiatives and organizations of today starkly contrast the USDA’s (US Department of Agriculture) reclassification of ketchup as a vegetable during President Reagan’s term in office. This allowed school lunch programs to meet minimum standards required for federal reimbursements even if they replaced vegetables with a small amount of ketchup. Overnight, vegetables disappeared from school lunch programs and paper containers with a small helping of ketchup appeared on school cafeteria trays. Democratic politicians seized the opportunity to dramatize this USDA snafu, termed ketchupgate, by staging photo ops of democrats dining on nutritionally void meals that met the new lax standards. Newsweek magazine reported the story and the ketchup as a vegetable policy was subsequently abandoned.

Michelle Obama shows off incredibly toned midriff in workout photo leaving fans wowed: ‘That’s what a woman should look like’

Michelle Obama took to Instagram on Sunday, October 20, to give her followers a taste of her fitness routine and to encouraged her fans to take care of their bodies.

The 55-yer-old former first lady, who has 33 million followers on the social media platform, posted a photo of herself wearing a two-piece black workout attire—with a hint of her toned midriff showing—and a matching hat as she lifted a medicine ball over her head in a gym.

“It doesn’t always feel good in the moment. But after the fact, I’m always glad I hit the gym,” Michelle captioned the picture. “How did you all take care of yourself on this #SelfCareSunday?”

The mother-of-two was met with a number of positive comments from her followers for her post. One wrote, “That’s what a woman should look like, nothing fake and inflated!” while another told her to “keep up the good work.”

“You are still an inspiration. Thank you,” wrote a third.

First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a yoga class during a visit to the Gwen Cherry Park NFL/YET Center on February 25, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Getty Images)

During her husband’s two terms as the president, Michelle launched the Let’s Move! campaign which was aimed at raising a “healthier generation of kids” by “solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight.”

“One of the reasons I took on the issue of wellness is because we’re dealing with an obesity epidemic that is shortening kids’ lives. I started with kids because my hope was that we can do for our kids when we can’t find the time to do for ourselves. Starting with young people was a way to ease into the conversation,” Michelle said during an interview with CBS Anchor Gayle King at Essence Festival in July.

During the interview, she also mentioned that her father’s early demise was what inspired her to become an advocate for self-care.

“When it comes to our health as women, we are so busy giving and doing for others that we almost feel guilty to take that time out for ourselves,” she said. “If we don’t have our act together as women, as mothers, as grandmothers, we aren’t going to be able to get our kids on track.”

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Sick of ruining your diet thanks to another weekend brunch? You might want to steal this healthy idea from former first lady, Michelle Obama.

Obama’s time in the White House leading the Let’s Move program may be over, but her dedication to health and fitness is still going strong. She recently shared a a few photos on her Instagram page from last weekend — where she hosted a “bootcamp weekend” for her friends.

File this under things you probably already assumed: Michelle Obama has a seriously formidable forearm plank.

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These weekend bootcamp classes aren’t a new tradition for the fit first lady and her crew — back when she was in the White House, she’d frequently hold the weekend gatherings for her closest friends.

“Our bootcamp weekends were a reminder that if we want to keep taking care of others, we need to take care of ourselves first,” she wrote.

For this group, that means lunges, crunches, glute bridges and more. Obama noted that it doesn’t matter that her friends are all “at varying fitness levels.” It’s about showing up!

We all know how easy it is too indulge a little bit too much on the weekends with our friends and family. For most of us, we catch up with our loved ones over a side (or two) or fries. If you’re looking for a way to see your friends and stay on track with your health goals, a great alternative is a fun activity or workout that gets you moving — just like Obama and her squad.

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Not feeling ambitious enough to jump into a bootcamp on your day off? Don’t worry — there are endless options to stay active while being social. Walking in the park, going for a bike ride or trying a new workout class with friends are all easy ways to stay healthy together.

Any type of physical activity is a step in the right direction for having a better, more productive weekend!

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First Lady Advice

MICHELLE OBAMA may have one of the most enviable pairs of biceps in the United States, but luckily she’s prepared to share the secrets behind them. “I have a pretty well-rounded routine that incorporates cardio, some weights – but nothing heavy, nothing dramatic – and plyometrics and things like that, which is a lot of body movement,” she revealed. “Barack and I work out every day. When he isn’t travelling, that’s the first thing we do. So we spend time together in the morning. I usually get to the gym before he does.” And even when she’s travelling, Michelle manages to fit exercise into her schedule. “I bring a jump rope – a jump rope and some of those rubber bands that you can get. They’re really inexpensive. And I can usually do some rope jumping in the hotel room,” she told US website iVillage, which she is guest-editing at present. “Sometimes, if I don’t have a rope or if I don’t have space, I might do a 30-minute routine that includes a minute of jumping jacks alternating with a minute of push-ups, or however many you can do, and then some sit-ups. And you keep doing that circuit again and again.” The First Lady also revealed that healthy eating is behind her enviable physique, and that she hopes to pass on the same good habits to her children, Malia and Sasha. “Surprisingly, the best healthy habit is eating dinner together on a regular basis. I think we underestimate the importance of families sitting down around the table at a set time. And it’s hard for many families. It was hard for us until we got to the White House. Barack can at least control that part of his schedule. He can stop whatever he is doing, come home at 6.30pm.” However, you’ll be relieved to hear that she does have her vices. “Barack, his is chips and salsa and guacamole. If there are chips and salsa, he really can’t stop eating those. For me, it’s French fries, which is good because you can’t just have French fries around, so that’s helpful. But if there are French fries in the vicinity, I’m done. It’s over.”

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Michelle Obama with Barack Obama at Jason Wu 2017 Inauguration Tout

Michelle Obama has always motivated people to work out, be it when she was the first lady or now when she is an ordinary citizen like all of us. Like many of the things in life, her approach to fitness has not changed recently and she still loves working out with buddies and sharing her food with staff members. In fact, she is happier than before because she can visit a workout class without much of a trouble or unnecessary attention. Have a look at her key workout and diet secrets over here to get motivated. If the former first lady can do it, why can’t you?

Workout Secret

The latest workout secret of the qualified lawyer was hosting a boot camp. She was the host of the boot camp which involved loads of her friends who are at different fitness levels. She says that these boot camps are a reminder for her and her friends that if you want to keep taking care of others, you should take care of yourself first. The boot camp included about a dozen new and old friends of the lovely woman who were of varied ages.

Michelle Obama running outdoors

Healthy Advice for Michelle Obama Fans

If you want to stay fit like her, you should learn to work out with your friends. She advises all the people to stay fit and healthy this summer by finding some time for workouts with your buddies. If you try to be healthy together, your friendship will flourish too.

Workout Routine

The exact workout of the wife of former American President Barack Obama was shared via a video that she posted herself. It was filled with some vital exercises like jumping ropes, lifting weights, boxing, etc. and the pretty woman just breezed through it.

Love for SoulCycle

Apart from the boot camps, the Illinois-born is also relying on SoulCycle classes in DC. She was spotted attending a class twice in one week a few months back.

Diet Secrets

Obama likes to pack her own bag for lunch and eats with her staff while laughing over viral videos in her office in D.C’s West End. Her preferred lunch option is Turkey Chili.

Michelle Obama emphasizing on the benefits of drinking more water

Grueling Exercises from Michelle Obama’s Boot Camp

If you are inspired by the black-haired beauty’s boot camp idea and want to learn about the exercises she does during a boot camp, then you don’t have to wait long. Here they are:

  • Push Ups and Planks

As one might expect, Michelle doesn’t waste time in getting right to it during her boot camp. She starts off on a tough note with some serious planks and pushups.

  • Lunges

If you want a great bum, you need to add lunges to your workout routine. What’s the better time to try it than a boot camp?

Michelle Obama with her meal

  • Crunches and Sit-Ups

The lunges should be followed by some serious crunches and sit-ups that will make your core stronger and help you get some sexy abs.

  • Leg Work

The final exercise of the session should be leg lifts as they will firm your thighs and your stomach. It will also tone up your legs like never before.

Michelle Obama serving food

All in all, it can be seen that Miche was, and is going to be a reliable fitness inspiration for scores of Americans who want to be fit like her. If she can do it while being the first lady and even afterward when her schedule is quite full, you shouldn’t find many excuses that stop you from following her lead. Good luck and we hope that get started on your own fitness journey soon!

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