First lady kicks off anti-obesity effort for children

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WASHINGTON — First lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday launched “Let’s Move,” her biggest-ever campaign, aimed at conquering childhood obesity within a generation.

Its roll-out came with the news of some early successes, highlighted by the first lady and her aides. Some key developments:

The American Beverage Association has committed to putting clear, front-of-pack calorie labels on cans, bottles and vending machines within two years.

The American Academy of Pediatrics will call on its physician-members to regularly monitor the body mass index for children age 2 years and older.

—Major suppliers of foods to school cafeterias have pledged to cut sugar, salt and fat and increase whole grains and produce.

—Some 40 executives of major food producers and
agribusinesses indicated in an open letter they will join the first
lady in promoting healthy eating.

Among the signers: Irene Rosenfeld, the CEO of Kraft Foods, based in Northfield, Ill., and Brenda C. Barnes, the CEO of the Sara Lee Corporation, based in Downers Grove, Ill.

The food executives noted that already they have
developed more than 10,000 products featuring reduced fat, trans fat,
sugar, salt and calories.

—Major media companies including the Walt Disney Co., NBC, Universal and Viacom had committed to join her effort by running public service announcements.

—Professional athletes will join the chorus of voices urging kids to put away the video games and recreate.

“This isn’t about politics … I’m talking about
common-sense steps we can take in our families and communities to help
our kids lead active, healthy lives,” Obama said in a speech from the State Dining Room.

Earlier Tuesday in the Oval Office, President Barack Obama signed a memorandum on childhood obesity. He said it would trigger a
90-day plan that “provides optimal coordination” among federal agencies
to fight the epidemic.

About one in three U.S. children now is considered
obese or overweight, meaning the country leads the developed world in
the problem, said Judith Palfrey, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The effort has a Web site, LetsMove.gov.

Source: McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.