Dr. Oz: Michelle Obama. Obesity Epidemic. Solutions.

First Lady Michelle Obama with Dr. Oz09-12-2012 First Lady Michelle Obama appeared on The Dr. Oz Show  and talked with Dr. Oz about her role as First Lady in our national debate over Childhood Obesity.  She explained to Dr. Oz that among the many issues that she could have focused on as First Lady, why she chose obesity.  She said before her White House days and as a working mother of two kids,  she faced some of the same health challenges as other working families.  She found that she was eating out more than she knew was healthy, she didn’t have the opportunity to cook home meals as much and she wasn’t paying attention to portion sizes. 

On one of her children’s physicals, the doctor mentioned seeing a “blip” in her children’s BMI.

He said he was seeing in his practice the obesity rate increasing and the residual effects of increased childhood diabetes such as asthma and a whole other set of related issues.

Michelle Obama realized she needed to make some changes and found out that simple, small changes made all the difference. She started eliminating processed foods, sugary drinks, added more veggies on the plate, and made sure her kids were being physically active regularly.

Dr. Oz shared with the First Lady that he thought obesity is the greatest national security threat. She said shockingly, obesity was the number one factor that prevents young people from the age of 17 to 24 from qualifying for military service.  The military is taking this very seriously and have implemented some successful programs to reeducate and get soldiers ready for combat.

Mayor Bloomberg of New York City has raised the question of how much should the role of government play in our food choices, namely the proposal to ban super sized portions of sugary drinks.

And on a national level, Michelle Obama says it’s really about giving families the resources and the information that they need to make the right choices for their own families.  There is no “one size” solution to this issue.  And it’s not about placing blame. Sometimes society works against us.  Life has changed. People are so understandably busy, that people are going to fast food restaurants a couple of times a day. Nowadays kids are watching TV or playing computer games too many hours in a day and in some cases, it is not safe to play outside. We are not always aware of how these changes in society have impacted the health in our own homes.

The government is getting involved in the national debate by trying to be a source of information and education.  One reason why Michelle Obama said she started focusing on kids and childhood obesity is that she knows that people will do for their children what they will not do for themselves.  As adults, a lot of times we will get the motivation to try something new if it will help our children.

With the school gardening programs, the First Lady says the kids that she sees are very excited about growing their own fruits and vegetables and seeing this happen in their own schools and playgrounds.  They are more willing to eat what they grow. Hopefully, they will take this experience home and start a dialog with their own families.  And if you make it fun and make it something that we are all coming together around as a community and it is not a battle but “this is something that’s going to be fun, it’s going to be cool and you’re going to like it!,” kids will be more willing to do it.

Dr. Oz realizes many families feel that food is sacred to them and they use food to deal with day-to-day stresses.  What do you say to those families that think that Michelle Obama is taking the “fun out of food.”  Mrs. Obama says she talks a lot about her fun foods because it is not about deprivation,  it’s about balance and moderation.  It seems that in The First Family,  they normally don’t have junk food or dessert during the week so when they do go to functions, having cake or junk food is not an issue.  And their kids stay physically active in competitive sports.

And speaking of school sports, the First Lady announced that the physical fitness test that has been in place for the last 25 years is changing.  She said it has been updated to reflect the current science.  The new tests are designed to make it more individualized and take the intimidation level out.  Instead of being compared to the super jock next to you,  you will be tested within your own fitness level.  This new way reflects the idea that fitness is not about athleticism. Some kids may not play on a varsity sport but can still be in great shape.  The new tests seek to help individuals set personal goals and to improve their fitness within those goals.

Also this fall, The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 takes effect  mandating that schools provide healthier school lunches.

She is very proud of the work her husband has done to make sure everyone has access to health care.

ObamaCare will include such benefits as preventative care, well child visits, mammograms and pap smears, will be covered at no cost.  Kids can stay on their parents insurance until 26 years old. Grandparents are able to pay less for their prescription medicines.  People will not be denied coverage because of preexisting conditions.

So in answer to Dr. Oz’s question “Does she believe that health care is an important legacy of her husband’s?” The answer is “Yes!”

Related Sites:

Let’s Move!

The President’s Challenge


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