published Friday, February 11th, 2011

Mrs. Obama in the pulpit

Michelle Obama, the president's wife, does not have an official post in government. She does, however, have what President Theodore Roosevelt called a "bully pulpit" -- a position that provides her with an opportunity to expound her views. She's not afraid to make her views known. The first lady's campaign to promote healthier eating choices, to encourage people to exercise and to eliminate or reduce childhood obesity within a generation has elicited a remarkably positive response.

Mrs. Obama's highly visible campaign -- a year old this week -- has had its share of triumphs. The White House fruit and vegetable garden, initially derided as a stunt by some, proved to be far more than that. The garden served a useful purpose. It inspired many Americans, including school kids, to plant and to tend gardens -- and then to eat the healthy, fresh food that the plots produced.

The first lady's advocacy is far-reaching. She's talked with governors, mayors, school leaders and others about the dangers of obesity and a national diet heavy in salt, sugars and fats. She's called for better labeling on food products. She's urged community leaders to build sidewalks, bike paths and playgrounds so those who want to exercise can do so in safe and convenient places. Mrs. Obama's involvement and travel -- she was in Atlanta earlier this week -- on behalf of healthier lifestyles have served as a call to action.

Her interest likely helped convince Wal-Mart, which currently controls about 15 percent of the nation's grocery business, to agree to lower prices on fresh fruits and vegetables and to work with its providers to reduce the amount of fat, sugar and salt in the foods in the packaged foods it sells. The retailer also agreed to build stores in or near some of the nation's so-called "food deserts" -- neighborhoods that have little or no access to healthy foods at any price. Currently, those who live in the "deserts" have no choice other than packaged or fast foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

Wal-Mart alone won't resolve the problems that concern Mrs. Obama, but the chain's agreement to address them certainly is a step in the right direction. So is word that beverage makers and food manufacturers are voluntarily redesigning product labels so they contain useful nutrition information. An informed shopper is more likely to make healthy choices at the store than one that does not have sufficient information at hand.

Restaurants are next on Mrs. Obama's list. She wants them to offer healthier meals -- especially for children. That's a reasonable goal.

There are those -- Sarah Palin, for example -- who have bad-mouthed Mrs. Obama's health-related campaigns. That's silly talk. Given the rising number of U.S. children and adults who are obese and coping with ailments like high blood pressure and diabetes, the effort to promote healthy diet and exercise choices is a sound one.

Besides, it's not the first time a president's wife has used her status to call the nation's attention to an important issue. Betty Ford's frank talk about breast cancer probably saved thousands of lives. Nancy Reagan's anti-drug campaign and Laura Bush's promotion of literacy touched millions, too. Mrs. Obama's call for a healthier lifestyle is firmly in the activist tradition of recent first ladies.

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Francis said...

there's one difference between michelle obama, nancy reagan and laura bush......michelle obama is an arrogant elitest and an authoritarian, just like her husband. criticism will not be tolerated...and visibly so.

"we can't just leave it up the parents"....michelle obama....socialist and an elitest...

boy, yeah..if it weren't for michelle obama riding in on her white horse and saving us from evil walmart where would we be.

wallmart wanted to build a couple of stores in the city of chicago...where many people of all backgrounds would have access...but the city of chicago, a democrat party controlled city, wouldn't let them.

michelle obama's agenda is about control, just like her husbands, just like any good communist or dictator...control our health decisions, step in be- tween us and our doctors and tell us what to eat and what not to eat...what to buy and what not to buy.

she and her husband can kiss my ***

February 11, 2011 at 8:45 a.m.
potcat said...

WoW your starting early this a.m. Francis.Do you really believe the Obamas are communist?I do not believe for one second you believe that.You are so passionate on the post you write.The truth must mean something to you. I know i get it wrong all the time but i am constantly reading listening and know i am partisan.You are setting youself up for the ridicule you get and deserve if you dont stop this conplete nonsense.

February 11, 2011 at 9:41 a.m.
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