Michelle Obama Claims Credit for Dip in Childhood Obesity

Wednesday, 07 Aug 2013 11:54 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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First lady Michelle Obama Tuesday says her "Let's Move" initiative is leading to cuts in the nation's childhood obesity rates — although a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report says the rates were dropping before she ever launched the program.

"We know how essential it is to set our youngest children on a path towards a lifetime of healthy eating and physical activity, and more than 10,000 child care programs participating in the Let’s Move! Child Care initiative are doing vitally important work on this front," Obama said in a statement Tuesday.

"Today's announcement reaffirms my belief that together, we are making a real difference in helping kids across the country get a healthier start to life."

Childhood obesity rates among low income preschoolers, while dropping slightly between 2008 and 2011 in 19 states, actually started to show improvement from 2003-2008 after decades of rising — and years before the Obama administration, according to the CDC report. The rates in another 20 states and Puerto Rico held steady from 2008-2011, and increased slightly in three states.

Obama started the Let's Move initiative in February 2010, about a year after she broke ground on the White House Kitchen Garden, beginning a discussion with children about proper nutrition and the role food plays in living a healthy life.

Michelle Obama said Tuesday that while the "announcement reflects important progress, we also know that there is tremendous work still to be done to support healthy futures for all our children.”

The CDC report said that despite the advances, "too many preschoolers are obese," and called for state and local officials to help play a role in continuing to reduce obesity. 

The CDC called for state and local officials to create partnerships to make changes promoting healthy eating and active living; make it easier for families to buy healthy food in their neighborhoods; provide access to safe and free drinking water in public places; help schools open gyms, playgrounds and sports fields during non-school hours; and help child care providers give children better nutrition.

The CDC reports that obese children between the ages of three and five are five times more likely to grow up to be overweight or obese adults.

On Tuesday, Obama's office announced the "Let's Move" program will release a hip-hop album, complete with 19 songs and 10 music videos, reports The Huffington Post.

The album is being made in conjunction with the Partnership for a Healthier America and Hip Hop Public Health, and will be released on Sept. 30. It will feature artists including Run DMC, Ashanti, Doug E. Fresh and Jordin Sparks.

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