First Lady Michelle Obama added a military family event to her Thursday public schedule. She'll fly to Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida panhandle from Miami, where she will boost community service.
On Tuesday afternoon, over at Health and Human Services headquarters in Washington, she worried about childhood obesity and urged folks to stand while watching television to keep off the pounds.
Mrs. Obama started making the rounds of the federal agencies after President Obama took office, and 9½ months later and after a summer hiatus, she was back at it this week.
Federal spending to combat obesity is increasing, with money from the economic stimulus package channeled to fighting fat as part of health and wellness prevention programs. While Mrs. Obama talked about health, she did not comment -- on the day the Senate Finance Committee approved a health care bill -- about President Obama's battle for health care reform.
The Recovery Act included $373 million in money that communities could compete for to reduce obesity -- giving incentives for grocery stores to open in underserved areas; improving school meals; getting more affordable, healthy food in vending machines; and creating more places for people to exercise and play.
"Nearly a third of all children in this country are overweight or obese. One in three children in this country. And a third will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lifetimes. A third of children. And in the African American and Hispanic communities, that number goes up to one-half. One-half of those children," Mrs. Obama said.
"This has profound implications for not just their futures but ours as a nation. It is a major public health threat right now, so just imagine what we're going to be facing in 20 or 30 years if we don't get on this issue. We have to think about what kind of increases we'll be seeing in other obesity-related conditions like heart disease and cancer and high blood pressure. How much money will we be spending each year on the medical care, on the missed days of work, the loss of productivity?"
Mrs. Obama went on to offer a few weight loss tips:
"I've learned that, again, little changes can make a big difference. . . . Simply adjusting how we eat, like trying to cook one or two meals at home each week . . . switching from soda to water -- pretty simple; adding a vegetable or a fruit to a dinner plate, making that more the meal than the meat or the rice; and paying a little more attention to what's on the labels -- again, not totally evaporating your way of being as you know it today, just little changes -- and finding a way to get more exercise into all of our lives, including our kids'.
"Walking instead of driving. Standing in front of the TV instead of sitting. Small things. But all of this truly could have noticeable effects."