First Lady Michelle Obama is nothing if not the strongest advocate fighting the childhood obesity epidemic. From launching the Let’s Move campaign to tirelessly living a healthy lifestyle herself (I mean, have you SEEN those toned arms?!), she’s someone that we can’t help but admire.
During yesterday’s National Council for La Raza’s annual conference, the FLOTUS spoke to the Latino community about immigration, childhood obesity and how we can affect change. Her last words to us? We need to “once again summon the passion and determination” to give our children the better health they deserve. “Now, are you ready to get to work?” she said as the room erupted in applause. Here are the six lessons we learned during her keynote address.
1. Michelle Obama NCLR: Immigration
“I promise you my husband will not give up until a good bill gets on his desk.”
When talking about immigration reform to a room full of Latinos, the First Lady started by ensuring us that her husband is doing everything he can to fight for comprehensive immigration reform. We’re crossing our fingers that he will get to sign something soon!
2. Michelle Obama NCLR: Children Exercise
“Nearly five times more Hispanic parents report that safety is a barrier to their kids being active.”
There’s a reason why our kids are dealing with childhood obesity at higher rates, and this is certainly one of them. The other scary statistic she mentioned? 40% of Hispanic children are overweight or obese while 50% are at risk of developing diabetes.
3. Michelle Obama NCLR: Family Dinners
“While food may be love, the truth is we are loving our kids to death.”
The FLOTUS talked about families and food. “Food is how we knit our families together,” she said. It’s true. But, as she went on, the reality is that the food available today is frequently unhealthy, processed and lacking in nutrients. Her conclusion? We need to focus less on giving kids the food they want (junk food, candy, soda) and more on the nutrition they need.
4. Michelle Obama NCLR: Healthy Eating
“We don’t have to completely deprive ourselves to lead a healthy lifestyle. It’s about balance.”
With all of the talk about the childhood obesity epidemic, you’d think that the First Lady is a regimented healthy eater—but she acknowledged with a sense of humor that “treats are okay” and that “special occasions call for special foods.” The key is balancing a mostly healthy lifestyle (she works out seven days a week!) with a little flexibility.
5. Michelle Obama NCLR: Low Sodium
“We create the demand for these products and it’s up to us to demand quality affordable foods for our kids.”
Citing the fact that half a billion dollars is spent on food ads in Latino markets, many of the ads being unhealthy, she talked about the importance of the food industry improving how they market to our kids. Realistically, though, the $1 trillion dollar Latino community is the one with the power to demand healthier options, like low-sodium canned goods and low-fat snacks. She urged us to use this power because if we don’t buy those items, companies will stop making them.
6. Michelle Obama NCLR: CuidadoDeSalud.gov
Upcoming Launch of Healthcare.gov & CuidadoDeSalud.gov
For those that do not yet have access to health insurance, FLOTUS spoke about the upcoming launch of the English-language Healthcare.gov and the Spanish-language CuidadoDeSalud.gov, which are aimed to help us find affordable healthcare for both individuals, families and small businesses. The comprehensive information will be available on October 1st.