All aboard for Michelle Obama’s childhood obesity campaign


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First Lady Michelle Obama rolled out her ‘Let’s Move’ campaign, targeting childhood obesity, on Tuesday. She outlined a multi-part approach that involves families and communities and includes input from the public and private sector.

Fighting childhood obesity — pretty much a no-brainer, right? Still, we weren’t quite prepared for the barrage of news releases from bandwagon-jumping organizations that couldn’t wait to say they were on board with the plan. Showing support so far are the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the American Dietetic Assn., the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Society for Nutrition, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, (wait, we’re not done) the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Assn., the American Assn. of Clinical Endocrinologists, the National League of Cities, (still got a few more) the National Assn. of State Boards of Education, Chartwells School Dining Services, Sodexo and BET Networks. There were also some surprises in the group. To wit:


The American Bakers Assn.: This organization ‘...wholeheartedly applaud(s) First Lady Michelle Obama for dedicating her considerable credibility and clout toward solving the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic,’ according to President and Chief Executive Robb MacKie. Why, you may be wondering? ‘With grains positioned at the base of the food guide pyramid, bakers take very seriously their responsibility in providing healthy, nutritious and wholesome products to consumers.’ Just ignore the cupcakes. Don’t even look at them.

The Dr Pepper Snapple Group: The company plans, according to a release, ‘... to improve product labeling by listing calories more prominently on containers, vending machines and fountain equipment.’ But that’s not all: ‘The beverage industry has a proud heritage not only of bringing our consumers fun and refreshment but also of taking action to help build stronger communities, support education and promote health and wellness,’ according to the group’s president and chief executive. We guess they’re thinking more about the ‘fun’ part and less about the studies linking soda consumption to weight gain in children.

Retired military brass: Gen. Johnnie E. Wilson, U.S. Army (ret.), and Lt. Gen. Norman Seip, U.S. Air Force (ret.), said Tuesday in a release that ‘... preventing child obesity is a matter of national security’ and noted that ‘being overweight has become the Number 1 reason why potential recruits are unable to enlist in the armed services.’

PepsiCo: Not to be outdone by Dr Pepper and the Snapple Group, PepsiCo issued a release with news about a beverage-labeling plan that supports the initiative. ‘To help consumers manage their calorie consumption,’ says the release, ‘PepsiCo will list calorie content on the front of its beverage containers, vending machines and fountain equipment by the end of 2012. Packages up to 20 ounces will be labeled with total calories and multi-serve containers will be labeled with calories-per-serving based on 12-ounce servings.’ See two paragraphs above.

Look for more wagon-hitching in ensuing days. We’re still waiting to hear from the Independent Office Products and Furniture Dealers Assn. and the Society of Women Engineers.

— Jeannine Stein