but today, for many children, all that has changed. The
foods they’re eating aren’t always giving them the nutrients
and energy they need. They’re spending more time sitting
inside with a television or a computer rather than playing out-
side with a kickball or a frisbee. gym is being cut at schools,
portion sizes have grown, and the drive-thru finds its way to
the kitchen table more and more.
and all of these little, daily habits might not sound like
much on their own, but they’re adding up to some pretty star-
tling trends in our country. Childhood obesity rates in the
United states have tripled in three decades. Today, almost
one in three of our kids is overweight or obese. more and
more, they’re getting adult diseases like diabetes or high
cholesterol before they even lose all of their baby teeth.
as a mother—and as an american—i was concerned. so
last year, we decided to do something about it. We started
a nationwide initiative called let’s move!, and we set out
to achieve one big goal: to end the epidemic of childhood
obesity in a generation.
That may sound ambitious—and it is—but when it
comes to our children’s health and well-being, i think we
should be ambitious. We don’t want to just take half-steps
here. We want to solve this problem. We want our children
to reach adulthood at a healthy weight. We want them to
fulfill their dreams, to live a full life, and to take this country
to heights that we can’t even imagine right now. but we also
know that to achieve all that, we’ve got to get moving.
That’s why we’ve worked with schools to expand the
Healthier U.s. schools program, which rewards schools
that serve nutritious school meals and ensure that their
students are physically active during the day. We’ve
started a Chefs move to schools program, putting professional chefs and local schools together to develop
healthier menus. We’ve worked with Congress to pass the
Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids act, which will get healthier
food to millions of schoolchildren. and we’ve partnered
with businesses like Wal-mart, nonprofits like the Fruit
and Vegetable alliance, and everyone from drew brees
to rachael ray to elmo to provide parents with better
information, kids with good role models, and families with
healthier food options in their communities.
but i may be most excited by what’s happening from
the ground up, in communities and neighborhoods all
over this country. in just a few short months last year,
more than 470 mayors and local officials signed up to be
a part of let’s move! Cities and Towns, a program that
encourages municipal leaders to create long-term plans
to tackle childhood obesity in their communities. From
portland, ore., to portland, maine, and lander, Wyo., to
new York City, each of these communities is driven by
leaders who are determined to tackle this issue in ways
that work for their families.
Take philadelphia, where leaders recognized that many
of their neighborhoods were “food deserts”—areas with-
out any kind of grocery store or place that sold healthy food.
so, in response, they’ve started an effort called the Healthy
Corner store initiative, which has recruited nearly 500 cor-
ner stores that pledge to sell fresh vegetables, healthier meats
and low-fat dairy products. additionally, they’ve opened
four new farmers markets in low-income neighborhoods
and they’re working to put healthier drinks into their vend-
in new Haven, Conn., elementary schools are putting
salad bars in their lunchrooms. neighborhoods are cutting
ribbons on new playgrounds. and young entrepreneurs are
starting a company to bring healthy snacks to inner-city
in Clifton, n.J., they’ve started weeklong camps to help
teens get active and teach younger kids how to prepare
in millis, mass., parents have volunteered to clean up
their local park so that children have clear, safe spaces to
run around and play once school gets out in the afternoon.
efforts like these are happening in every corner of the
country. so while i know that this is a serious issue, and a
significant challenge, i also know that there’s no shortage
of folks willing to help.
and i hope that in the coming months, even more folks
will step up. i hope that more cities and towns will find cre-
ative ways to help our kids stay active, from renovating old
playgrounds to organizing after-school programs. i hope
that more schools will work to provide nutritious food for
their students and teach them healthy habits. i hope that
more faith leaders will encourage healthy lifestyles in their
congregations and more business leaders will ask them-
selves what they can do to help, whether that means spon-
soring a local children’s sports league or aligning with a local
nutrition program or food bank.
There are so many ways that we can all get involved here,
and if each of us does our part, then i know we can give all
our children the happy, healthy futures they deserve. and
that’s what keeps me moving every single day.