What's Missing from Michelle's Obesity Initiative: Personal Responsibility

Topics: Wellness and Health

Marion Nestle has a nice summary of coverage of Michelle Obama’s powerful announcement yesterday, with NYTimes, USA Today and Marion Burros Politico.com coverage.

She also has a refreshing view: this is one step in the right direction, perhaps a baseball single instead of a home run.

I think it’s closer to a double –because media, big food companies and the environmental standards are all aligned to profit from it and get a move-more message across. The White House has even held a gaming summit to look for solutions, a smart idea, which includes UCSB’s Debra Lieberman.

Here, from the WSJ today, is the outcome of personal responsibility—for the under 5 set. Moms of infants and toddlers get it…look at the last 5 years.

Child Obesity by Age Group

Child Obesity by Age Group

What’s missing? Personal responsibility. Parents setting limits, making decisions for kids not yet to adolescence, role modeling. A plant-centered diet, with a model plate. Standards that we can measure about kids other than just their weight to–not just growth charts, but health charts. What’s needed is a personal, hands-on diet approach for kids who need to be on a diet.

For adults, it’s easier to change their environment than to change themselves, and to make it fun…almost a game. For kids, too.

But this still starts with identifying the problem (most parents don’t know their kid is overweight), and owning it…and then laying out a diet plan that can work, with accountability and self-monitoring.

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