First lady launches effort to end childhood obesity

WASHINGTON -- Michelle Obama on Tuesday unveiled "Let's Move" -- her national public awareness campaign against childhood obesity, a problem she says concerns her as first lady and as a mom.

One in 3 American children is overweight or obese, leading to a higher risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other illnesses. Billions of dollars are spent every year treating obesity-related conditions.

Public health experts say today's kids are on track to have shorter life spans than their parents.

"None of us wants this future for our kids," Obama said during the White House event. "We have to act, so let's move."

Her campaign has four parts: helping parents make better food choices, serving healthier food in schools, making healthy food more accessible and encouraging children to exercise more.

The ambitious campaign, which Obama hopes will be her legacy, is aimed at solving childhood obesity in a generation so that children born today can reach adulthood at a healthy weight.

Major elements include:

The Food and Drug Administration working with food manufacturers and retailers to make food labels more "customer-friendly." The nonalcoholic-beverage industry said Tuesday that it will start putting calorie information on the front of its products.

The American Academy of Pediatrics encouraging doctors to monitor children's body mass index, or BMI, a calculation of height and weight used to measure body fat.

Serving healthier food in schools. Congress is due to rewrite the Child Nutrition Act this year, and the administration is asking lawmakers to spend $10 billion over the next decade to give schools money to make changes.

Offering $400 million in tax breaks to encourage grocery stores to move into "food deserts," areas with limited supplies of nutritious food, and spending $5 million more to establish and promote farmers markets.

Encouraging children to exercise more; an hour a day is recommended.

Setting up a Web site,, with shopping tips, a recipe finder and other resources.

Judith Palfrey, president of the pediatrics academy, said the problem needs a national solution.

"So having the president and first lady take the lead on this, particularly the first lady, the first mom, is giving us the reinforcement that we've needed," Palfrey said.