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Finally, a nutrition campaign that takes a practical path

Submitted by on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 No Comment

Yes, I eat the occasional burger and fries. Ice cream and cookies, too.

Now that first lady Michelle Obama has stepped into the confessional and admitted as much herself, I feel safe in going public as well.

That’s the problem I’ve had in the past with so many people who think creating forbidden foods is going to solve the obesity epidemic. It’s not. Just ask Adam and Eve about those no-nos. And apples are even healthy.

We can tell our kids “just say no to donuts” all we want, but unless we keep them in bubbles from cradle to grave, they’re going to encounter junk eventually. The key is in teaching them how to deal with it.

Obama’s new “Let’s Move” campaign says we deal with it by helping children learn to make healthy choices and by encouraging them to be more active. It also addresses the practical realities that make it harder for some parents to do the right thing for their children.

Barriers such as living in neighborhoods without easy access to stores that sell healthful food – Obama’s husband has pledged $400 million in next year’s budget to help on that count – as well as lack of adequate nutrition information on products.

Organizations ranging from the American Academy of Pediatrics to Nickelodeon are on board, and companies that operate many school lunch programs have said they’ll cut the sodium and fat in the meals.

So far, so good, though admittedly there’s still a tough road ahead before this battle is won.

There’s the battle of denial – I know parents who insist they don’t let junk food in their houses even though they hit the drive-through most nights – though if the pediatricians follow through and begin giving parents “prescriptions” for healthier weights, that should help.

There’s the battle of affordability, the one that often means two liters of soda is cheaper than a half gallon of milk.

And there’s the battle of inactivity, and that one isn’t going to get any easier in an era where schools eliminate physical education classes and video games continue to grow ever more popular.

But at least Obama’s picked a rational starting place that’s brought together many key players. That’s more than you can say for many efforts in the past.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

In between bouts of burgers and fries I behave myself – raisin bran for breakfast and meatless marinara spiked with spinach over whole-grain spaghetti for dinner yesterday. Lunch sort of disappeared, but I tend to do that when I’m stressed. I’m working on that one, but I doubt it will ever be solved.

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