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Michelle on a Mission Article

I just got a hold of the March 22 Newsweek magazine featuring Michelle Obama on the cover ('scuse me for getting it late - I get them from the library when they are done with them). Regardless of your political affiliation or feelings in that realm (which I absolutely do not want to get in to), Michelle Obama has taken on a different role than any other First Woman in history. She's making it her personal mission to combat childhood obesity. You can read the article in it's entirety here.

There is one paragraph in the article that I particularly like. It says, "Let's be honest with ourselves: our kids didn't do this to themselves. Our kids don't decide what's served in the school cafeteria or whether there's time for gym class or recess...And no matter how much they beg for fast food and candy, our kids shouldn't be the ones calling the shots at dinnertime. We're in charge. We make these decisions." (citation is at the end of the post for all those sticklers)I just want to throw it out there -- preach on Michelle! Like I said in the post about Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and the cafeteria ladies who said the students just don't like to eat their vegetables, and so they should go back to serving the students fries and chicken nuggets because that's what they like, kids aren't in charge. As parents and adults in the world, we all have a responsibility to show the young'uns (whether it be your own children, or your students if you are a teacher) what is right and wrong. Just as you wouldn't purposefully teach your child bad morals, you also shouldn't be teaching them bad eating habits.

Much of the middle of the article is focused on what other countries did to combat their own obesity problems, and how we could possibly move forward. It states that Denmark banned all trans fatty acids in 2003 and now taxes saturated fat too. It also brings up the route that New York has taken in also banning trans fat and forcing restaurants to post their calorie counts. I do agree that some of these are positive changes. Posting calorie counts helps to bring people into an awareness of what and how much they are eating. However, I absolutely don't believe that banning all things that are bad for you is the road that we should take in our effort to combat this rampant problem. What would be next? Banning salt in recipes? What about meat? The jury is still out on that. Is the government going to tell me that I can't have a burger, even though I am normal sized and not unhealthy? I don't believe that our government should be our mom - looking over our shoulders and telling us to eat our vegetables. I believe that two main concepts need to change - first off, we need to gain awareness. It blows my mind when I delve into nutrition information and see how many people do not know very basic nutritional information. To me, it is common sense that you aren't supposed to eat fried food or fast food every day. I still remember the first time I ever saw someone go back for seconds on DESSERT! For many though, they weren't brought up in a house that ate well, and they honestly do not know what they are supposed to eat to be healthy. So I do think that there needs to be some massive public education on the matter (I do not have real world solutions on how we are going back making these changes, I am merely stating what I think).
Secondly, I believe that as a general rule, Americans need to start accepting more personal responsibility for their situations. We are a nation that blames someone else - a person dies of lung cancer, and they sue the tobacco industry, because clearly they had no choice but to smoke. Someone slips and fall in a bank, and they sue the bank, since obviously the bank greased the floor just to make them fall. There is never any responsibility accepted for the fact that we make choices, and those choices have consequences. If you eat 5000 calories a day, you are going to get fat. If you have the information that you need to make healthy choices (see #1), and you still make bad choices, than you are choosing to be obese. Like anything else in life, if you choose to be obese, there are going to be consequences.

I enjoyed the Newsweek article because it really covers what I've talked about here and how I personally feel about obesity and childhood obesity. It directly states in the article, that Mrs Obama "isn't giving anybody a pass on individual responsibility." Clearly, individual responsibility is a key point in this equation. We can do all the educating in the world, serve up the freshest meals in the cafeterias, and ban trans fat all over the world, but if people do not take a personal interest in their own health, it will be in vain.

These are my personal opinions about the subject matter and the article. I am always open to hearing other people's opinions, and would love any and all feedback. In no way do I mean for this post to be judgmental or condemning. I realize that each of us has our own demons and struggles, and we all face different battles in our lifetime. I would love to hear other perspectives and opinions.

Citation - (Obama, Michele "Michelle On a Mission." Newsweek March 22, 2010: 41. Print.

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