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Michelle Obama’s Obesity Summit

Apr. 15, 2010

by Debra Eschmeyer

When President Obama established a "Presidential task force on childhood obesity" in February, Grist’s Tom Laskawy wondered whether our nation’s first federal food policy council had quietly sprung into being. In a food policy council, the key stakeholders of a region’s food system come together to assess the current food situation and envision ways it might be improved. Food policy councils are a growing phenomenon at the state and municipal level, but such a thing had never existed before at the national level. Does it now?

Well, last week I had the honor of attending the new task force’s White House Childhood Obesity Summit, and it certainly had the flavors of a food policy council: an array of food-policy players across agencies gathered to discuss a key symptom of a food system gone off the rails: childhood obesity.

The task force was charged with developing and submitting to the President in 90 days an interagency plan that “details a coordinated strategy, identifies key benchmarks, and outlines an action plan.” As part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign, the task force is engaging both public and private sectors with the primary goal of helping children become more active and eat healthier within a generation, so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight.

Feeding our children better may look at first glance like a softball issue for the first lady; but the Ms. Obama is actually in the opening stages of what looks like a long and complicated fight. but as Time put it:

"If this sounds like a political fight, well, it is. Michelle Obama may be tilling nonpartisan ground with her vegetable garden and child-obesity program, but food has long been political. From soda taxes to corn subsidies, food is about health care costs, environmentalism, education, agriculture and class."

[to read the rest of this post, go to Grist, by clicking here.
Debra Eschmeyer is an Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Food & Society Fellow and the communications and outreach director of the National Farm to School Network, which is a program of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College. While she continues her passion for organic farming on her fifth-generation family farm in Ohio, she currently plows with her pencil from Washington, DC. ]
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