On Friday, the first lady gave the keynote speech at the Building a Healthier Future summit, a three-day conference hosted by the Partnership for a Healthier America, that brought together industry leaders and nonprofits to focus on creating solutions to the childhood obesity crisis.
First lady Michelle Obama has dedicated herself to building and promoting Let’s Move, a public-private collaboration since 2010, aimed at ending childhood obesity within a generation.
In her speech, Obama spoke about the recent achievements of the Let’s Move program and partner organizations: helping 32 million kids gets healthier meals, cutting 6.2 trillion calories from products, and improving nutrition labels on more than 700,000 food products. Obama also mentioned that tens of thousands of schools would be removing junk food ads.
In addition, she cited a recent Centers for Disease Control report that showed a decline in obesity in children between the ages of 2 and 5. According to the Let’s Move website, 1 in 3 children in America is obese.
“Now is not the time to take our foot off the gas and congratulate ourselves on a job well done. Now is the time to fight even harder because we now know that it is possible to make a difference on this issue.”
The first lady also spoke about how her grandmother and mother planned and budgeted for each meal. “Back then unless you were rich, cooking was a matter of survival,” she said.
But as her life grew busier with a full- time job and two young children, when her grandmother phoned to ask her what she was cooking, Obama said, “Grandma, really? I am a lawyer, I do not cook.”
Since then, she has changed her perspective and is calling American families back to the kitchen.
“The idea is to help families start cooking again,” Obama said.
“This is just one example of a very simple creative approach that doesn’t require new legislation but can fundamentally change the way families take control of their own health,” she added later.
Obama pointed to research that demonstrated the importance of family meals. “Cooking isn’t just good for our budgets or good for our physical health, but it’s also good for our children’s emotional health.”
She also spoke about other research that suggests food prepared at home is lower in saturated fat, sodium, cholesterol and calories than food prepared away from home.
Obama promised she will continue her work to fight childhood obesity even after she leaves the White House.
“I believe in finishing what I start and I know that you do too.”
Also at the summit, the Partnership for a Healthier America announced three new partners: Del Monte, a food corporation that produces primarily canned fruits and vegetables, Kwik Trip, a convenience store chain with stores across the Midwest, and Dannon a global food corporation that’s primary product is yogurt. Each company promised to improve the nutrient density of it its products.
“We hope very much that our example will encourage others to join in this important partnership,” said Steve Loehr, vice president of operations for Kwik Trip.