"The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake."
Words spoken by first lady Michelle Obama at the launch of the "Let's Move!" campaign on Feb. 9, 2010.
"Let's Move!" is the first lady's ambitious and comprehensive campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation. According to the website, the"Let's Move!" initiative is designed to give parents, schools and government leaders the tools they need to create and promote healthy lifestyles so that "children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams."
Common sense would (or should) dictate that working towards a healthier future for our children is a worthy goal and that, for Michelle Obama, it is a fine use of her high-profile position.
But thinkers from the political right including 2008 Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, disagree calling Obama's plan just another way for the government to infiltrate our lives and tell us how to live them.
One of Obama's most notable detractors, Rush Limbaugh, has even gone so far as to criticize the first lady's weight, claiming that she is not fit enough to fight obesity, and scrutinizing everything she eats calling her a hypocrite' for eating ribs on a family vacation.
One might ask why this is even a political issue in the first place? And they would be right to ask the question.
Don't we want our kids to learn how to eat healthy and exercise? And aren't more tools and information --instead of less --better?
Taking statistics for what they are, which is to say, usually skewed toward the point we are trying to prove, let's examine some of the staggering numbers on childhood obesity found at www.letsmove.gov.
- Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled.
- Today, nearly one in every three children in America is overweight or obese.
- Childhood obesity can lead to health problems such as, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and asthma.
- Children and adolescents ages eight to 18 spend at least 7.5 hours a day in front of such media entertainment as television, computers, video games and hand-held electronic devices.
- In total, American's are consuming 31 percent more calories than we were 40 years ago.
Yikes! The good news is that there is a simple fix to these disheartening numbers, although it comes at a price for some conservative thinkers. That is because it involves tuning out the distracting rhetoric of political animosity and remembering that this is not a left/right fist fight.
We are in the midst of one of the most politically charged times our generations have seen. We argue just for the sake of arguing and get so focused on being right that we forget where our focus should be...on our kids.
This fight is about our children. We are battling against the changing times when processed foods are the easier, cheaper choice. When digital media is in the immediate grasp of even our youngest kids. When a quick car ride to school or the store is more convenient than the slower pace of a walk or a bike ride.
Creating a health-focused future for generations to come is an idealistic goal and one we should all get on board with regardless of our political leanings. As parents, we should be the first lady's strongest allies as we strive toward building healthy lifestyles that will positively affect our children.