By Erin Kate McCarthy, Friday, March 19, 2010, at 3:26 pm.
While listening to NPR recently, my disappointment grew as callers complained about Let’s Move, a new government-sponsored initiative that aims to conquer childhood obesity and general poor health. One person said something to the effect of, “We’re trying to make children too skinny,” while another said, “Our culture only likes thin people.”
An overweight woman called in saying she felt targeted and was offended at the new initiative. I also heard parents defend their overweight children, calling the program useless and unfair. Probably the best comment I heard was from a caller who said we don’t have a problem with children and weight; rather, the studies that showed those results were, the person said, “made up.”
There are pros and cons to almost every situation, but I find it difficult to defend any argument objecting to the goal of Let’s Move. Let’s face it: There is an enormous weight problem in America. Children are chubby and diabetic, more money than ever is being spent on the health (or lack thereof) of children, and parents will outlive their children if this continues. It’s a sad state of affairs for the Land of the Free; frankly, it’s embarrassing.
I don’t believe in wasting time blaming people on how this tragic problem emerged, but I do think it’s important to examine some of the reasons behind the issue:
An estimated two-thirds of our population is obese or overweight. If this continues, children will die before their parents. This realization is extremely devastating, and it’s also unfortunate and unacceptable. There are several reasons that this happened, and the American culture has allowed the behavior to continue.
The working parents are doing the best they can, juggling carpools, work, laundry, marriage, economic pressures, stress and mortgages. The school systems face choices affecting decisions that kids shouldn’t be punished for, regardless of whose fault it is. The cyclical nature and interconnection between all these reasons and others for childhood obesity perpetuate the problem.
Michelle Obama has taken on a tremendous issue plaguing our children and families nationwide. Understanding how we got here is one thing, but we must move forward and stop finding reasons to call Let’s Move unfair. Regardless of whether you agree with the government and its administration, Michelle Obama and her counterparts deserve at least some credit for trying to tackle a major problem affecting far too many children and moving forward to help get our children healthier, thinner and at fewer health risks that can so easily be prevented.