Michelle Obama reflected on the legacy of her health initiatives and the work that still needs be done on Friday at the Partnership for a Healthier America’s Building a Healthier Future Summit. And she had some fighting words for anyone who doesn’t put kids’ health at the top of our society’s priority list.
The former First Lady spoke with Sam Kass, former White House Chef and founder of Trove, about why she pushed for children’s health programs like the Let’s Move campaign, which encouraged kids to be active in addition to raising the standards for school lunch nutrition. “The numbers were real,” she said. “This wasn’t fake news. Obesity rates are rising and continue to rise among our youngest. We’re seeing kids have higher rates of stroke, heart disease, diabetes. These are real numbers; preventable illnesses. We’re living in a time when our kids may have a shorter lifespan than us.”
While she said that no one in particular is to blame, our modern lifestyles certainly haven’t helped. She noted that kids today are much more sedentary than kids of past generations, and that “iPhones, iPads, iWhatever” are part of the problem.
But the majority of the talk focused on what will happen next with Obama’s programs. The Trump administration announced plans to roll back her healthy lunch initiatives and the revised nutrition labels that Obama champion are also likely to be delayed. (Trump also recently announced that he intends to end Obama’s widely praised Let Girls Learn initiative.) To this, Obama said ‘We have to make sure we don’t let anybody take us back. Because the question is where are we going back to, and this is where you really have to look at motives. Why don’t you want our kids to have good food at school? What is wrong with you, and why is that a partisan issue?”
“Think about why someone is okay with your kids eating crap,” she continued. “Because here’s the secret: If someone is doing that they don’t care about your kid, and we need to demand that everyone care deeply about our kids.”
On a hopeful note, Obama said that she plans to make health and nutrition integral parts of the platform she and Barack are building with the Obama Presidential Center. And she offered advice for parents whose kids aren’t exactly on board with healthy eating. “How about we stop asking kids how they feel about their food?” she said. “Kids don’t like math either, so what are we going to do? Stop teaching math? We are the adults in the room.”
Obama ended with a call to action of sorts, telling the crowd, “If we really want to make this country great, then our kids need to be healthy.”
Read more about the former First Lady’s appearance at the summit here.
Originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com