First Lady Michelle Obama: Child Health and Obesity Quotes

Mrs. Obama speaks frequently and movingly on child obesity.

Obesity quotes - Michelle Obama sharing meal with students
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Obesity quotes certainly aren't all that define First Lady Michelle Obama. But as part of her ambitious campaign to eliminate childhood obesity in one generation, Mrs. Obama often speaks about kids' health, nutrition, and fitness. These passionate and compassionate quotes are a sample of some her comments on these topics.

The Founding of Let's Move!

"The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake.

This isn't the kind of problem that can be solved overnight, but with everyone working together, it can be solved. So, let's move." –Let's Move launch announcement, 2/9/2010

The Value of Exercise

"How many people here, how many kids are runners? I love that. It is so important for you guys to get exercise on a regular basis. And it doesn’t have to be running. It doesn’t have to be a sport. Some kids are good at sports, but it can be dancing. It can be playing with your dog. It can be going for a walk with your parents. But it is so important for you guys if you want to grow up to be big and strong and capable, to make sure that you start figuring out how to incorporate exercise into your life in some way, shape, or form.

"[Exercise] makes me feel good. It gives me energy, you know? ... There’s something about exercise that gets your heart pumping and the blood running that actually makes me feel better.

 And when I don’t exercise a lot, I start feeling sluggish and more tired. And I don’t know about you, but I want to live a long time, okay? I want to be ... a 90-year-old lady that’s really fly." –Q&A on Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, 4/20/16

Changing Eating Habits in Her Own Family

"Dessert in our household went from being a basic human right every night to being a special treat for weekends.

 So we really shook things up. And I have to tell you, this new routine was not very popular at first. I still remember how the girls would sit at the kitchen table, and I’d sort out their lunches, and they would sit with their little sorry apple slices and their cheese sticks. And they’d have these sad little faces. They would speak longingly of their beloved snack foods that were no longer in our pantry. And as they ate their veggies each night at dinner, they would curse their mother under their breath. ... So we faced some initial resistance. But we stuck with it, and eventually, our kids adjusted. –Let's Move! Parenting Bloggers Event, 3/15/16

School Lunches

"We’ve set higher standards for the food that we serve in schools for our kids.  And I have to say, this is one of my proudest achievements—all of us. Today, I am proud to say that 97 percent of schools are now meeting these new standards. Remember all the fuss? Well, they’re getting it done, and that’s terrific. ... We believe that when you’re doing your best to serve your kids nutritious food at home, that work shouldn’t be undermined in the school lunchroom.

Instead, it should be supported." –Let's Move! Parenting Bloggers Event, 3/15/16

"While budgets are tight right now, there are schools across the country that are showing that it doesn't take a whole lot of money or resources to give our kids the nutrition they deserve. What it does take, however, is effort. What it does take is imagination. What it does take is a commitment to our children's futures." –School lunch standards announcement, 1/25/2012

"We can all agree that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, all children should have the basic nutrition they need to learn and grow and to pursue their dreams, because, in the end, nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children. ... These are the basic values that we all share, regardless of race, party, religion. This is what we share. These are the values that this bill embodies." –Signing of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, 12/13/2010

"Kids who participate in school meal programs get roughly half of their calories each day at school. ... This is an extraordinary responsibility. But it's also an opportunity. And it's why one of the single most important things we can do to fight childhood obesity is to make those meals at school as healthy and nutritious as possible." –School Nutrition Association Event, 3/1/2010

The Power of Parents

"If we want to keep seeing better food options for our families, then we need to keep raising our voices and convincing more parents to join us in voting with their wallets. We as parents need to be leading this conversation about kids’ health in this country. So when naysayers claim that we just can’t afford to serve our kids healthy food, it’s up to us as parents to push back and say, 'We can’t afford not to give our kids nutritious food.' Because when we’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars treating obesity-related diseases, we simply don’t have the luxury to ignore this issue." –Let's Move! Parenting Bloggers Event, 3/15/16

"I am not asking anyone to take the fun out of childhood. As we all know, treats are one of the best parts of being a kid. Instead, the goal here is to empower parents instead of undermining them as they try to make healthier choices for their families." –White House convening on food marketing and children, 9/18/13

"We as parents are our children's first and best role models, and this is particularly true when it comes to their health. ...We can't lie around on the couch eating French fries and candy bars and expect our kids to eat carrots and run around the block." –Building a Healthier Future Summit, 3/8/13

The Impact of Let's Move!

"Over the past five years, we have truly changed the culture around healthy eating and living in this country. Food companies are racing like never before to create healthier versions of their products. Even convenience stores are selling fruits and vegetables. Head to the local drive-thru and kids’ meals might include apples and skim milk. 

"Schools are growing gardens. They’re moving beyond just pizza and tater tots to lunches filled with fresh produce and whole grains. Companies are actually rewarding employees for eating right and going to the gym. And it seems like everyone’s running out to buy those fitness bracelets. Five years ago, all this stuff would have been considered cutting-edge, but now, today, it’s our new norm.

"For the past five years, we have been addressing this issue from every angle. And these changes are finally starting to have an impact. Childhood obesity rates have finally stopped rising, and obesity rates are actually falling among our youngest children. ... But let’s be clear: While the progress we’ve made is impressive, it’s also incredibly fragile." –Partnership for a Healthier America Summit, 2/26/15

"Slowly but surely, we're beginning to turn the tide on childhood obesity in America. Together, we are inspiring leaders from every sector to take ownership of this issue." –Building a Healthier Future Summit, 3/8/13

"With every healthy meal and snack you provide for kids in your community, you’re not just nourishing them today; you are shaping their habits and their tastes for the rest of their lives." –Let's Move! Cities, Towns and Counties Event, 9/16/15

The White House Kitchen Garden

"It was eight years ago that we cooked up this really interesting idea that maybe we could dig up some dirt on the South Lawn ... and we would plant a wonderful garden that would be a space for us to talk about the food we eat. And it was always the idea that we would have kids very involved in everything that we do.

"In addition to being a really important resource for us, the White House Kitchen Garden has really begun a conversation around the country about community gardens. And we’ve seen an increase in the number of folks that are planting community gardens in their neighborhoods. They’re even doing some community gardening in space." –Annual Kitchen Garden Planting, 4/5/2016

"Some kids have never seen what a real tomato looks like off the vine. They don't know where a cucumber comes from. And that really affects the way they view food. So a garden helps them really get their hands dirty, literally and understand the whole process of where their food comes from. And I wanted them to see just how challenging and rewarding it is to grow your own food so that they would better understand what our farmers are doing every single day across this country and have an appreciation for that American tradition of growing our own food and feeding ourselves." –At the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 5/3/13

Encouraging Kids to Eat Fruits and Vegetables

"When you turn on the TV or you go online, you hardly ever see any really cool ads for fruits and vegetables. Instead, every year, the average kid in this country sees more than 5,500 TV ads for unhealthy foods and just 100 ads for foods like fruits and vegetables. ... That’s really what FNV is all about—it’s about taking the same power of advertising, but using it to promote foods that are good for us. –FNV Live Event, 11/20/15

"Parents have a right to expect that their efforts at home won't be undone each day in the school cafeteria or the vending machine in the hallway. ...Parents have a right to expect that their kids will be served fresh, healthy food that meets high nutritional standards." –Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signing

Let's Move! Cities, Towns, and Counties

"Because of your passion and your dedication, in just three short years, 500 communities across America have joined Let’s Move! Cities, Towns, and Counties. Let’s just take a moment to think about what a day in the life of a child in a Let’s Move! City, Town or County might look like.  

"Start in the morning. That child wakes up, takes a ride or walk to school on a bike path or sidewalk that you paved. Now, when that child arrives at school—or maybe at a summer nutrition site—she might eat a healthy breakfast, and then later, a healthy lunch. Why? Because you expanded your school meal programs.

"So now it’s time for recess. That child might run around in a nearby field because of a joint-use agreement that you signed. And then she might head to an after-school program, maybe a sports league that you started. And maybe, later on, she goes home to her parents where they cook her a healthy dinner using the MyPlate guidelines from a poster that you put up somewhere in your city. Then it’s later on in the evening, after dinner. And then her family can head to a local park for a little more exercise—a park that you refurbished.

"With every healthy meal and snack you provide for kids in your community, you’re not just nourishing them today; you are shaping their habits and their tastes for the rest of their lives." –Let's Move! Cities, Towns and Counties Event, 9/16/15

Spending to Combat Child Obesity

"Back in 2007, when RWJF made that first big commitment to combat childhood obesity ... Many folks just didn’t think childhood obesity was a serious issue. And many folks who did think it was a serious issue didn’t want to go anywhere near it, because it seemed like an impossible problem. ... So I think it’s fair to say that by investing $500 million in this issue back then, RWJF wasn’t just stepping on the bandwagon, they were building the bandwagon pretty much from scratch. But they did this because they understood the science, and they realized that this issue wasn’t just undermining our kids’ health, it was undermining the health of our economy. It was affecting the productivity of our workforce. It was costing us billions of dollars in health care expenses." –Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announcement, 2/5/15

"We don't need new discoveries or new inventions to reverse this trend. We have the tools at our disposal to reverse it. All we need is the motivation, the opportunity and the willpower to do what needs to be done. ...With this report, we have a very solid roadmap that we need to make these goals real, to solve this problem within a generation." –Press conference announcing childhood obesity task force report, 5/11/2010

The Olympic Games

"The USOC and 16 of its national governing bodies will be providing opportunities for nearly 2 million kids across this country to participate in Olympic sports in their own communities. They’re going to have access to everything from basketball and tennis to things like fencing and judo—maybe things that kids usually don't have access to.

"They won't just be learning athletic skills; the cool thing is they’re going to be learning life skills as well—like discipline, teamwork, and of course, the importance of giving 100 percent to everything that they do.

"They’re also going to be learning what I always talk about are life habits—the habits that we've been emphasizing through the past six years through the Let’s Move! initiative—habits like staying active, fueling your body with good food so that you can actually compete in the way that you need to." –2016 Olympics 100 Days Out Countdown, 4/27/16

The Value of Drinking Water

"Since we started the Let's Move! initiative, I've been looking for as many ways as possible to help families and kids lead healthier lives. And I've come to realize that if we were going to take just one step to make ourselves and our families healthier, probably the single best thing we could do is to simply drink more water. It's as simple as that. Drink more water." –"Drink Up" campaign launch, 9/12/13

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