Michelle Obama targets child obesity

  • 20/07/2014

By Kate Fisher

Nearly a third of children in New Zealand are obese or overweight according to research published in medical journal, The Lancet.

That's the same rate as the United States, where First Lady Michelle Obama has made it her priority to bring an end to childhood obesity.

The White House dining room is usually hosting heads of state, but recently it was school children enjoying the hospitality alongside Ms Obama.

On the menu were black bean burgers, a recipe invented by the children in a national competition - one way Ms Obama is trying to get children excited by healthy eating.

"We are laying an imprint on our kids with everything they put into their bodies today. We know so much more now about how nutrition and exercise impacts our children's ability to focus and succeed both in school and in life."

It's a strong message, but then her husband turned up and let slip his diet downfall.

"My big thing is chips and guacamole. If there's a bowl of good chips and guacamole, I lose my mind," says President Barack Obama.

After lunch kids got a tour of the White House kitchen garden, complete with tips from the chefs and South Lawn selfies.

But there are millions who have not got the message, both in the US and in New Zealand. They both have the same size problem, with a childhood obesity rate of 29.2 percent.

The University of Washington's Professor Ali Mokdad, one of the authors of the Lancet study, says children learn eating and exercise habits that stay with them throughout their lives.

"If you see problems in that age group, you would expect these problems to continue throughout life," he says. "This is where we have to be aggressive in intervention in order to promote physical activity and healthy diet. The fact that First Lady is taking action that's really wonderful, what she's doing is great."

But whether it's enough to convince an entire nation to change their habits may be an altogether tougher challenge, a challenge which faces New Zealand too.

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source: newshub archive