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Fat is the new dirty

Historiann discusses the new “Let’s Move” initiative by Michelle Obama to end obesity in children:

I haven’t had the time to do a lot of reading on “Let’s Move,” but I’m already struck by how rhetoric about obesity today tracks with the same concerns 200 years ago about civilizing American bodies through cleanliness, and children’s bodies in particular. It’s really uncanny.

Brown makes the point that nineteenth-century bourgeois reformers identified the clean body as a site of virtuous citizenship. But of course clean clothing and clean bodies, and the means and ability to achieve them, were above all a marker of one’s class status, since it was only the middle-class who could afford to do laundry weekly (and/or have a “hired girl” in to do it), and only the wealthy who had running water, bathtubs, and the means to travel to fashionable spas for soaking in and drinking up healing mineral waters. Brown also tracks the convergence in the later eighteenth century and early nineteenth century between discourses on spiritual or moral cleanliness, and bodily and household cleanliness. Early in the nineteenth century particular attention was paid first to children’s bodies as an index of their mother’s moral worth, and then later in the century as the bodies of poor and/or immigrant children came into contact on a regular basis with the bodies of middle-class and even elite children in public schools.

If we replace the words “unclean” with “fat,” and “cleanliness” with “thinness,” we’ll come very close to the rhetoric and language of the “Let’s Move” campaign.

Standards of beauty and fashion tend to reflect the the things the distinguish the upper classes from the rest of us. Once upon a time being overweight was synonymous with wealth and “Reubenesque” was the standard of beauty. There was also a time when being tanned identified a person as someone who performed manual labor outdoors so the upper classes considered pale skin attractive.

Melissa McEwan has more:

I just said in January of another similarly disastrous idea: “Just on the most cursory, simplistic level, this has the I assume every fat, disabled person I see is disabled because they’re fat, and don’t consider the possibility they’re fat because they’re disabled problem about which I’ve written before.” While physically disability that limits movement may be less endemic among children than adults, this is nonetheless a national campaign equating “moving” with “getting thin/healthy,” without regard for an implicitly disablist message.

And, naturally, it also fails wholly to take into consideration that not everyone who “moves” loses weight, anyway. There are fat people who regularly exercise, whose bodies persistently stay “overweight,” laying waste to the “calories in, calories out” meme.

Maybe it’s just me but I detect some snooty elitism in the “Let’s Move” initiative. “We’re going to teach these ignorant poor people how to not be fat.” Since “rich” and “thin” seem to go together these days, why don’t you teach them how to not be poor instead?

It’s not like we live in a society that isn’t already obsessed with how much we weigh. We have a gazillion young women suffering from bulimia and anorexia and now the White House is gonna start harping on fat kids.

Meanwhile schools are cutting athletics from their budgets, cities and states are closing recreational facilities, latchkey kids are locking themselves in their homes after school instead of playing outside and their parents are coming home at night too tired to play with them.

205 Responses

  1. Mee-chelle is no stuzzicadente (sp?) herself…

    • Seriously? That’s how you choose to respond to a post about the problems of vilifying fat folk?

  2. The more things change, the more they stay the same. I remember when I was in high school in the 60’s and JFK was President his administration promoted a physical fitness program. Every year every gym teacher had JFK exercises and running programs. JFK linked his campaign to Americans going soft and to winning the Cold War. We all needed to be tough to beat back communism.

    From the Brown article cited above, “…since it was only the middle-class who could afford to do laundry weekly…”

    The way things are going in America today soon the middle class won’t be able to afford much of anything. There goes cleanliness. Maybe that is why Michelle is focusing on obesity. Of course, the poor can’t usually afford to eat well either. I guess her program will be about as successful as JFK’s and all of the other Presidents promoting exercise.

  3. What else do you expect from Whole Foods Nation? These people are engaging in self-righteous conspicuous consumption of the Green/Healthy lifestyle. It’s all brand and fad. I’ll bet you that less than 5% of those people could give a shit about the actual circumstances surrounding their produce’s growth.

    I live in Seattle, and here this is not a hippy movement. It’s mainstream. People buy organic booze and tampons. They’d probably buy caselots of ASBESTOS if you sold it in a package that said “Sustainably produced and Organic”.

    • About Face posted this about WFM rewarding their thin team members:


      • Amazing. Pretty soon, Whole Foods will probably start refusing to let me in the door because I’m overweight. Or maybe not. They’ll probably take my money and just silently judge me.

    • LOL. I live in Auburn but work in Seattle. What you say is soooo true.

    • I find that whole “I’m better than you because I buy organic” attitude sooo obnoxious. Real hippies are about having health-sustaining lifestyles NOT fads. Finding ways to eat healthier more nutritious foods, isn’t about just buying a bunch of products. And just because a product may be organic (loosely defined these days, since Obama has done nothing to eradicate the undoings of the Bush era) — DOES NOT mean it’s good for you!

      • So true. I mean, Whole Foods sells “organic” cheese doodles, potato chips, tater tots, and on and on.

    • I read last year that people in Spokane were going to Idaho to buy cleaning products with phosphorus because of a Spokane Co. ban. The environmentally friendly products were not working well.

      • My partner watched Food Inc., and we’re starting to buy organic produce and meat to support small farms. Yeah, organic or natural food is more expensive, but I shop the sales and we eat little meat. My community doesn’t have a Whole Foods (and I wouldn’t shop there if it did), but two grocers have great natural food sections.

        Here’s the link to the documentary: http://www.foodincmovie.com/

        • Organic has been co-opted by the industrial food supply chain. Go with small, sustainable farms, even if they can’t afford the organic cert. Know your farmer.

  4. Visit: Eat 4 Today

    The above site is Katie’s and she gives good tips and is very inspirational too. Go Katie Go!

    • Katiebird is on our blogroll and is also the TC administrator who designed and maintains our frontpage.

    • I’m on the diet from hell right now and could really use some inspiration. I’ll have to check it out.

      • Have you tried the Keith Richards diet?

        Every day you get 2 packs of unfiltered Camels and a bottle of Jack Daniels.

      • gx — I’ll tell ya, if you can change your focus to just eating healthier (rather than DIE-ting) it makes it a lot easier. I had to completely change my eating habits due to my chronic illness. I went from being a vegetarian to a meat eater, gave up sugar and became gluten-free. The focusing of my thought process to “I’m eating healthier for me” and making it positive rather than negative (i.e., I’m doing without) made the whole process easier.

  5. I think it was just this week that a troll on egalia’s blog was squawking to MO’s defense and then the maroon turned around and used “fat” as a pejorative for Rush Limbaugh. Hey, I don’t like the guy either but don’t wax all hypocritical in the same freakin’ thread. Geez Louise but those spambots are vile.

  6. I thought the program is to fight childhood obesity. I’m afraid I don’t agree that this is snooty elitism. After all, she’s First Mom. lol

  7. Michelle Obama’s approach is facile and doesn’t show much grasp of the issue. The fact that she used her own daughters’ weight as props without their involvement in it, much like her husband use Malia’s grades as a prop without Malia herself getting to speak for herself, only underscores how poor her understanding is.( I think it’s messed up and yet very telling that we know more about Malia’s grades than we know about the president’s.)

    What’s even worse is that Michelle had some potential to do enormous good by using her own example to promote physical health in conjunction with an empowering body image. I’m not sure she would have done it, but she had potential and she’s a better communicator than her husband too. Instead she’s gone the route where she says the only way she can relate to this issue is because she found out from her doctor that her daughter is getting “chubby.” Baloney has a first name (phony) and that’s Health initiative FAIL right there.

    • I was just so, so, SO appalled by Maliagate. Who the f*ck body-shames their ADOLESCENT daughter to the national media? Doesn’t junior high suck enough as it is? How cruel can you be? I have a renewed admiration for the way the Clintons kept Chelsea out of the spotlight during her adolescence.

      • What happened with Malia’s grades? I missed that. I did hear that Michelle said something about some problems with her daughters’ weight or nutrition. I think that’s horrible. Those kids should be left out of this PR stuff.

        • Here it is:

          Then, to a chorus of oooohs from the crowd, he said that Malia, a sixth-grader at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, had come home with a 73 on her science test not long ago. He recounted how, a few years ago, she had come home with a grade in the 80s, believing that she had ‘’done pretty well.’’ He and his wife corrected her, telling her that their goal was “90 percent and up.’’

          “So here’s the interesting thing: she started internalizing that,’’ the president said, adding that when she came home with a 73 on the science test ‘’she was depressed.’’ He asked her what happened, and she said the study guide didn’t match up with the test. So she vowed to study harder.

          “So she came home yesterday, she got a 95,’’ Mr. Obama said. “But here’s the point: She said, ‘You know , I just like having knowledge.’’

          BHO and MO come across as yuppie parents who think their pat anecdotes about their family are oh-so-helpful, (“we had problems with our kids but we fixed them so you can too!”) , and see their kids as fodder for “teachable moments” to impart their wonderfulness on others.

          What people need are JOBS. They need health CARE and health OPTIONS and disease PREVENTION that is accessible and affordable. What young vulnerable girls need, and young vulnerable boys need as well, is to be told that the body image in this country is what is SICK. We’ve got anorexia, bulimia, food insecurity and malnutrition, lack of adequate healthcare (both physcial and mental health), and obesity all on the rise. If Michelle really wants to reverse the epidemic of type 2 diabetes in children, she should have gone about this a lot differently.

          • Last time I checked a 73 was a passing grade.

          • That is so sad. As a teacher, I can testify that getting good grades on exams doesn’t necessarily translate into “having knowledge.” To some extent, tests measure how good you are at taking tests. Admittedly that is a skill, but I really don’t think grades should be an obsessive focus for parents–that can end up discouraging kids and can be counterproductive in the long run. An 80 is not a bad grade. It’s a B-, which is above average.

          • boomer, the Obamas seem to think that they are doing the poor unfortunate little people a favor by showing that they don’t have to live down to stereotypes, they can embrace…. perfectionism.

            Perfectionism goes hand in hand with eating disorders–really really toxic.

            Oh, and remember this stump speech from Obama?

            “So turn off the TV set, put the video game away. Buy a little desk or put that child by the kitchen table. Watch them do their homework. If they don’t know how to do it, give them help. If you don’t know how to do it, call the teacher. Make them go to bed at a reasonable time. Keep them off the streets. Give ‘ em some breakfast. Come on. … You know I am right.”
            ‘I’ve got to talk about us’

            Can change happen with words? That’s a core question being raised about the Obama candidacy.

            “I’ve got to talk about us a little bit,” said Obama. “We can’t keep on feeding our children junk all day long, giving them no exercise. They are overweight by the time they are 4 or 5 years old, and then we are surprised when they get sick.”

            Obama — who exercises and is careful about what he eats — said obese children need to improve their nutrition habits, invoking the name of a chain that makes delicious fried chicken.

            “I know how hard it is to get kids to eat properly,” Obama said. “But I also know that if folks letting our children drink eight sodas a day, which some parents do, or, you know, eat a bag of potato chips for lunch, or Popeyes for breakfast.

            “Y’all have Popeyes out in Beaumont? I know some of y’all you got that cold Popeyes out for breakfast. I know. That’s why y’all laughing. … You can’t do that. Children have to have proper nutrition. That affects also how they study, how they learn in school.”

          • Thier goal? Since when were they taking the science class?

            What happened to allowing children to set their own goals?

            I definitely understand being part of the process but it sounds like they took the process over for her.

            Hopefully she understands these standards set for her are her parents standards and hopefully she feels welcome in the process to discuss them. Otherwise they may be setting her up for real esteem issues if her capability does not equate to their standards.

          • MYiq, it depends on the school whether a 73 is passing. In some private schools in my area, bottom passing score is a 75, B’s start somewhere between 83-85, and A’s at 94.

          • Yuck. What about learning for its own sake. What about the fun of discovering science facts and tricks? What about neat things you can do with math? What about writing a story?

            Sounds like all the Os think about is a meaningless number and not the learning process — or what the goal of learning is.

            Big surprise, eh?

        • Michelle talked about her getting chubby; the Pres. himself talked about her getting a 73 on a paper.

        • I’m not sure? I was talking about the “she was OMGFAT!!!” interview.

      • I couldn’t believe that. I was absolutely floored when she talked about Malia’s weight like that. I grew up being very skinny, and when I was in high school I had the audacity to go from being a 100 pounds to 115 pounds, and I was 5’4.” My dad and step mom told me I was getting fat and talked about it to our family and friends behind my back too, and I can’t tell you how bad that hurt. But to tell the WHOLE WORLD your daughter was getting “chubby?”
        That is just unbelievable. And inexcusable. Poor Malia. Obviously Michelle’s anti-obesity campaign isn’t about living a healthy lifestyle. Its about looks. And yeah, it is elitist.

        • 5’4″ and 115 pounds is not chubby! My mother is about 5’6″, she is painfully thin, and she weighs around 124. She would like to weigh a litte bit more.

          • I know. And I’m also getting to be very well endowed. My hair was getting curly and big. I looked like a porn star and my dad was telling my brothers and sister how fat I supposedly was.

          • 5’4″ and 115 is in the high end of healthy for BMI. 110 is actually the cut off before you head towards underweight territory which is also considered dangerous.

  8. Michelle is into how she looks. The campaign we need is to bring awareness that eating healthy foods is easy: consume water instead of colas, salads instead of fries, and fruits instead of pizza. Good food is cheaper and more satisfying because off the shelf prepared foods are expensive, loaded with sodium, sugar, and chemicals.

    • Good food isn’t cheaper, though. If you live in one of the growing number of neighborhoods that has only convenience stores and no grocery stores, it’s way more expensive. If you’re working two jobs, do you really have the time and energy to make dinner, or is it all you can do to crack open a can of spaghetti-Os? There’s WAY more to it than just “Eating healthy foods is easy”. Let me tell you something. For lots of people it is NOT easy. For lots of people getting exercise is not easy. And for a lot of people they can eat healthy and exercise till the cows come home and not lose weight. It’s a complex equation.

      • Besides access to whole versus processed foods, there’s also the equipment required to prepare them. Just think about what’s needed for a simple home cooked meal like spaghetti. In poor living conditions, having the working stove, fridge, pot, collander, dishes, utensils, and most of all time to put it all together is not a given. For those not raised in an environment where they could watch someone cook and learn how it’s done, it’s even harder. It would be like telling someone to knit their own clothes. *****A

      • yeah. Bill Moyers and Now have done exposes on this. Showing poor people who REALLY WANT to buy vegetables, but can’t afford them!! This whole “let’s move” program smacks of sanctimoniousness. Tell people stuff they already know and already can’t do.

    • Dhyana, this is exactly the sort of thing that I’m talking about at Eat4Today. But, my view is a little different. i can’t really imagine your diet — substituting fruit for pizza? Maybe (maybe) if I lived in California (where we had the best fruit I’ve ever had right in our back yard) But, here in Kansas fruit – good, wonderful fruit – is nearly impossible to find.

      And I’m NOT really sure I’m willing to give up Mister’s homemade Pizza for any fruit.

      Other than that I am in agreement – as long as you can afford the time – good homemade food is cheaper and better for you.

      (running off to reply to myiq2xu’s post)

      • Dhyana ~ nice try but there is also no protein in your equation.

        Those of us who live rurally only get the nice fruits and produce in the summer when we grow our own…otherwise it’s very expensive. And the cost of dairy has exploded! The price of cheese and milk has gotten outrageous.

        Unfortunately Obesity and poverty go hand in hand. I wish they would address that rather than play the shame game of you people are making poor choices.

    • It is not always cheaper, and often just not doable. Shelf life is also a huge issue for the poor. I had 2 children and no car. Someone drove me to the grocery store about every 3 to 4 weeks. Pray tell how lots of yummy fresh veggies were going to keep that long? Especially given my ancient tiny fridge on its last legs. I give a head of lettuce 3 days in that dripping condensating mold-fest that was my fridge. Cans could be shoved on a shelf and BE there, even when I had no ride to get anywhere.

      The issue of poverty and diet is complicated, and not prone to simplistic solutions.

    • Looked at the difference in price between whole grain bread or white enriched stuff lately?

      Furthermore preparing food and menu planning take time. A luxury someone who is juggling jobs and a household may not have.

  9. I agree that childhood obesity is a growing problem, but the approach so often taken just smacks of judgement. This is one reason that I never got into the whole moralistic “those people shop at WalMart, which is teh devil, which makes them bad people” crap.

    Poor people do not often have the luxury of using their wallets to make the appropriate political statements. You buy your diapers and toilet paper where they are cheapest. You stock the pantry with stuff that is cheap, keeps for a long time, and is easy to prepare after you roll in the door exhausted from menial labor and have to get something on the table. That is often fats and starches. Heck, even reliable transportation is an issue – what store is closest?

    Having been very poor in my lifetime, I can tell you that one of the worst things about it is the mental tiredness. Poverty is grinding, in ways that go beyond just the wallet. Thinking about the long-term impact of things like diet and grocery purchasing just does not exist in that world. That sort of thinking is in itself a luxury, in so many ways. Fill the bellies with whatever is there, do the laundry, juggle the bills, grab some fitful sleep, and do it again tomorrow. Nothing exists outside of that.

    So now I sit here in my very nice kitchen, in which I love to cook, free to toodle down to the fresh market every other day if I so choose, free to plan and execute tasty fresh meals in a somewhat leisurely manner, and it is wonderful. And I enjoy it. And I’m positive that both I and my children are healthier for it.

    But I will never forget how it was to be poor with 2 children, and what survival is like. And if anyone had deigned to lecture me on the evils of hotdogs and mac-n-cheese, I’d have either looked at them blankly, or told them to eff off, or both.

    • (nodding) I’ve been there too – WMCB.

      Thank you for sharing this part of the story.

    • Hear hear. Don’t forget the dirty looks and remarks when you pull out the food stamps — one of my most cherished childhood memories.

      • Gosh you said it — pulling out the food stamps at the grocers, or having to hand the lunch lady your special colored lunch ticket (usually an obnoxiously bright orange). We were lucky enough to have free breakfast though. And at least now, they have a debit card instead of food stamps.

        • You’re so right. As a kid I remember going without lunch rather than undergo the shaming behavior from other kids toward me if I used the free or reduced lunch ticket. Our school had a brightly-colored ticket for these “exceptions” and I think we had to go last or some other indignity.
          Somehow I turned out OK tho 😉

          • me too 😉 but man, that was humiliating and taught humility, which I try to keep in mind when I “lecture” others about healthy eating.

            Actually, I meant to say that “We were NOT lucky enough to have free breakfast.” that program came after I was out of school.

      • I know someone who was laid off recently and got her food stamp card. She went to Whole Foods to buy a few things and the cashier seriously shamed her for using a food stamp card. Apparently the cashier looked at it as if it were some foreign entity then yelled out for help to accept food stamps so the entire store heard it. It was so embarrassing for her that she said she would never go to Whole Foods again unless she paid with cash.

    • WMCB wrote: “Thinking about the long-term impact of things like diet and grocery purchasing just does not exist in that world. That sort of thinking is in itself a luxury, in so many ways.”

      You are so right. If the Obamas really cared about childhood obesity, they would make sure the children’s parents had good jobs at good wages and good day care, as well as single payer health care.

      • Food politics are becoming the neo-libs/New Democrats version of Cadillac-driving welfare queens. Lectures which imply moral judgements of the recipients are just another way to create a new category of ‘undeserving’ poor. That way, we don’t have to care about affordable health care for those people, they don’t deserve it — how dare they suffer from bad health instead of working out 3 times a day at their Executive Gym? We don’t have to care about whether there’s enough food stamps to go around, because those people don’t deserve our help (they’ll just ‘waste’ it on junk food instead of blowing a week’s worth on $6/lb hydroponic organic tomatoes grown by virgins in sacred soil). We don’t have to worry that we’ve developed a permanent class of unemployed people, because if they deserved any sort of benefits, they’d have jobs already.

        The way to help people reduce childhood obesity is through education (not the finger-pointing lectures both Obamas are fond of) and giving people the economic security and social peace of mind that would enable them to spend the time and resources that eating healthy does.

    • Thanks WMCB for sharing the “grown-up’s side” to the poverty equation. Don’t forget the G-U-I-L-T quotient.

    • Thanks, WCMB. And I love your story. That’s a more appropriate way to use your children as anectodes to address how people should live healthier lifestyles.

    • Yes, just reading this WMCB and agree with everything you said. I think a lot of us here knows how poverty feels which is what makes us different from Whole Foods Nation.

  10. Myiq2xu, I’m so glad you quoted Melissa in your post — she’s written some of the best posts on social attitudes towards fatties. I really admire her.

    I am sure that my own health struggles date from the moment I was hit and run over by a car almost exactly 20 years ago. I was hit in my knee and later got a stress fracture in my opposite foot. The foot healed pretty quickly but, because of the knee injury, I couldn’t distance-walk for nearly 5 years.

    By the end of that five years my weight had ballooned dramatically and I had diabetes (which runs very deeply in my family.)

    The thing about any Let’s Move initiative is that moving is just a part of being healthy.

  11. Another example of the cynical Obama WH turning a real problem into a political opportunity. This initiative is in the same mold as HCR and Cap and Trade. I am waiting to see how this turns into another corporate welfare program. If they were serious about the problem, they would do what JFK did and have the Surgeon General lead the cause. The Surgeon General’s Report on smoking in 1964 was the turning point with that public health problem.

    Obesity is/has(?) replacing smoking as the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the US. 800,000 new cases of Type II diabetes are diagnosed each year. It is projected that this generation of American children will be the first to have a shorter life span than their parents. Liver damage caused by obesity is now the most common reason for liver transplant…on..and on….

    • Actually I think there is something else behind the diabetes epidemic besides fat. There is a genetic component of course, but something else is going on–probably related to food processing. I’m guessing the massive use of high-fructose corn syrup could be implicated. I wonder about other enviornmental contributions too.

      • Type II diabetes is a very active and evolving area of research. Type II diabetes can occur in people of “normal” weight but obesity is by far the predominate driving force. There is increasing evidence that obesity increases the immune response which can cause insulin resistance.

        “I’m guessing the massive use of high-fructose corn syrup could be implicated.”

        that sh*t is in practically everything we eat. HFCS was dirt cheap compared to cane sugar and the food processors put it in foods to appeal to the human’s “sweet tooth” and increase sales and profits. Perhaps one benefit of the Corn/ethanol corporate scam is that HFCS is getting more expensive.

        • Fortunately, there is a real push to take it out of products like bread. Bread doesn’t even need sweetener except a little to get the yeast growing.

      • There is the food angle, but the genetic component is a factor in ways many don’t think about. This sounds like a creepy thing to say, but genes for things like diabetes were rarer in the past because those people did not reproduce successfully very often.

        In centuries past, it was a much less common thing for a diabetic woman to carry to term, or for a diabetic man to avoid vascular issues and impotence long enough to pass on that gene. I’m glad for modern medicine that allows diabetics to live and have children. But the other side of that coin is that the genes for it aren’t weeded out to the extent that they were in the past.

        • It’s really not creepy, it’s true. And genes are an important factor in most diseases–including psychological disorders. And genetics affects the way people interact with their environments too (I’m teaching developmental psychology this semester, so please forgive me if I sound jargony).

          • Well, it comes across to some as creepy when I point that out. I’ve had people react as if I’d suggested eugenics was good idea. Not at all. But the fact that we as humans “play God” (or “play Evolution” as it were) with our own survival and longevity has complicating consequences that have to be faced.

            I tend to fall into the “everything is a trade-off” camp on a lot of issues, rather than a purist pro or con one. For instance, I find it odd when some people rant about the evil side-effects of food processing, chemicals, antibiotics, medicines, vaccines, and just about everything in modern society, and wax wistful at how much “healthier” and “closer to nature” our ancestors were. Except those people ignore the fact that people DIED AT FUCKING THIRTY and infant mortality was obscene in those idyllic all-natural societies. People died of malnutrition and food poisoning in 1629 a lot more freaking often than anyone dies of preservatives today.

            That’s not to say that preservatives and medicines can’t be improved. But everything in life is a trade off. Yes, we should look at better solutions, but for pete’s sake, let’s not go all moon-eyed gaga over the wondrous organic purity of primitive society.

      • Natural health proponents also cite depressed immune systems and increased food sensitivities as reasons. If you have the “diabetes gene” in your family, you also tend to have a weak thyroid. Corn and corn syrup weaken the thyroid functioning further. Many people are allergic/sensitive to corn. It really is a hard issue to address. Than there’s the inadequate levels of protein as well.

        Seems you tend to crave what’s “bad” for you. I find it interesting that hubby’s family has problems with heart disease and high cholesterol; they have loads of meat (sausages and beef) at every family function. My family with thryoid and diabetes issues tend toward the carb-laden side (even now that we’ve escaped poverty).

    • actually, it reminds me of Nancy Reagan’s totally pointless and ridiculed “Just Say No” program, also targeting children instead of the powers that be. Targeting children is chickensh*t.

  12. OT but read this and it’s interesting:


    How Christian Were the Founders?

    It’s from the NY Times Sunday Magazine for this Sunday.

    The Connecticut Baptists saw Jefferson — an anti-Federalist who was bitterly opposed to the idea of establishment churches — as a friend. “Our constitution of government,” they wrote, “is not specific” with regard to a guarantee of religious freedoms that would protect them. Might the president offer some thoughts that, “like the radiant beams of the sun,” would shed light on the intent of the framers? In his reply, Jefferson said it was not the place of the president to involve himself in religion, and he expressed his belief that the First Amendment’s clauses — that the government must not establish a state religion (the so-called establishment clause) but also that it must ensure the free exercise of religion (what became known as the free-exercise clause) — meant, as far as he was concerned, that there was “a wall of separation between Church & State.”

    • That is interesting. I’ve just read the first couple of pages so far.

      Look at this. Gallup found that Obama only leads a generic Republican by 2 points in a 2012 matchup–a statistical tie.


      • Weren’t most of the Founders Deists? That is to say, God left everyone to their own devices after the initial act of Creation? They’re about as close to being agnostic and atheist as you can be without going over?

        • Actually we came pretty close to being a Christian nation. Patrick Henry proposed Christianity as our religion. However, Jefferson’s Freedom of religion statute prevailed when it was heavily lobbied for by Adams and Jefferson and Patrick Henry was offered a governorship, making his own vote moot(since governors didn’t get to vote).

          At least according to From Colony to Country by Howard Zinn

  13. There was also a time when being tanned identified a person as someone who performed manual labor outdoors so the upper classes considered pale skin attractive.
    That association goes back thousands of years and is still very much the social norm in some Asian countries.

  14. As opposed to a bitter American, I guess I’m a “biting American who will cling to my goo goo clusters and Reese’s pieces,” until they are pried from my cold, pudgy fingers.

  15. If the issue is getting kids to be healthy then schools would keep or create good phys Ed programs and serve healthy food in the cafeteria. Read those menus for what schools are serving kids– pizza and French fries on the same day. Coke and candy machines. U gonna do anything about that Michelle?

    • Most schools have made big changes in food service; federal guidelines for school lunch programs have forced some changes too—no longer is ketchup counted as meeting the vegetable requirement. (OK improvement doesn’t always come in leaps and bounds.)

  16. Historiann quoting Daniel S. Goldberg:

    One of the most compelling criticisms of the lifestyle model of disease is not that it is false; but rather, it is incomplete inasmuch as it pays no attention to the ways in which social and economic conditions substantially determine one’s lifestyle choices. Even if we were to grant the exceedingly dubious proposition that fatness causes diabetes, drilling the causation down to individual lifestyle choices ignores, in my and many others’ views, the robust evidence that lifestyles are primarily the product of social and economic conditions (the social determinants of health).

    If rich and thin was easy everyone would do it.

    • Obesity doesn’t cause diabetes, but it does affect gucose metabolism so there is an indirect link. But actually many of the diseases that people think are “caused by” obesity (something we can’t determine through correlational studies anyway) really aren’t linked in the way they think. In fact the long term studies like the Framingham Study have demonstrated that people who weigh more as they get older actually live longer.

      There is also no scientific data to show that exercise increases lifespan. There may be a direct link, but if so it hasn’t been found yet. That doesn’t mean that exercise isn’t terrific for us, it is. There are all kind of benefits. But exercising doesn’t make everyone lose weight.

      • Very interesting!

      • The “overweight” in those studies was a modest amount. It didn’t include obesity. A confound is that many undereweight older people are malnourished or have cancer or other conditions which predispose to the thinness. So it’s more complicated than just weight per se.

  17. I have always found myself in a struggle with the scales and when I retired I took a vow to never step on the things again—drives my doctors nuts. But I do think obesity is a legitimate concern and I try to eat healthy and get plenty of exercise. I know that someone bringing up dieting or my weight to me has no positive effect. (It’s that defiant kid in there.) I don’t think I am alone. But what I do find helpful is discovering activities that do involve exercise that I really love to do. I love to hike on desert and mountain trails and I know that if I get too fat I just can not do it. So I keep up the struggle with fat so that I can hang in there with my boots, clinging to my camera and my backpack. With food I am ever looking for ways to cut the calories and the fat but I can not give up taste. I love to eat too much. It is a real balancing act.

    I am not going to beat up on Michelle on this. I would like her to be successful. I think it is a very touchy topic because it hits home in too many hearts and minds. I hope she finds a way to communicate that is helpful and if she does not, well she did try and the problem is important. Childhood obesity seems to be fraught with bad health news for ones future health.

    • I think Michelle is doing more harm than good, though.

      . Michelle and the WH are taking it way too far:

      The White House and its allies are also making the case that the obesity epidemic is affects national security; obesity is now one of the most common disqualifiers for military service.

      All this does is legitimize stimga. It’s counterproductive.

      They might as well announce, “OMG not only is fatty bankrupting our healthcare system but now fatty is threatening our national security.” And, so it ensues, the left that loves to pride itself on being the live-and-not-let-live side of the party when it comes to other social issues has no problem getting on its high horse blaming fatty for all of society’s ills. “OMG fatty is letting the terrorists win!”

      • whoops, should read “live-and-let-live side of the political spectrum”

      • fat people are threatening our national security? Seriously, Michelle should just stop. Like, now.

      • Obesity has always diqualified one from service.

        I’m going to have to defned Obama and his wife on this one.

        The military has had physical standards for years. I was barely able to enter the Navy in 1986 because I was at 110 pounds, had I weighed less than that I would have required a waiver. It’s the same for those that are overweight. Prior to entry you are required to complete a physical. every year you are required to complete a fitness test which includes body fat measurements. If you are overweight it can affect your advancement.

        • But, saying that obesity disqualifies one from service isn’t the problem–the problem is the Obama WH messaging, it’s too close to calling fat people a threat to national security, that is way over the top.

          • If people are being disqualified because they are too fat and we can not find enough people to serve that IS a potential threat.

            I guess I’m going to have to agree to disagree with people because I don’t see the inherent wrong with their statements.

          • It’s not inherently wrong in a technical sense, but it’s a counterproductive angle, especially for someone who is championing this issue and acting as if she’s doing something to help. Making obsess about their BMIs as if they are a new terror alert system is not helpful.

          • Yeah, and the thing is–overweight kids and adults *already* stress over their BMI’s. I’m on an email list with this doctor who’s always talking about how much she wants to harass people about their weights, and it’s like, wow, you really think overweight people are stupid. I’ve personally known very few jolly overweight people who live for today and don’t worry about tomorrow. I’ve known a lot of people who overeat compulsively due to stress and emotional upsets and who are terrified with every morsel they put in their mouths, with that terror compounded by not being able to afford or have pots and pans and a stove to prepare healthy foods. And they avoid going to the doctor to avoid the shaming. They don’t live in a bubble, they’re not stupid, and tough love doesn’t help. Overweight kids know they’re oveweight, they don’t need anymore stigma.

        • yeah, how dare all those poor kids who we could normally funnel in to service because they have no where else to go, get fat and risk the lives and property of the rest of us who have other options?

    • Why doesn’t she try to make sure schools have adequate facilities for exercise and intramural sports then? That would be a way to get kids moving more without shaming them about their body sizes.

  18. I value natural health and alternative remedies, and find Meechelle’s approach HIGHLY INSULTING!

    These kids are mostly obese because they LACK nutritious foods in their diets, not because they eat too much and don’t move as Michelle’s new pet project assumes.

    A major problem of poverty is the inadequate levels of protein found in kids’ diets. Without adequate levels of protein, especially the B-vitamins in meat, these kids are not being able to develop their optimal brain formation/ usage and develop the energy levels they need. AND lower levels of protein intake is associated with increased carb cravings, especially the sugar-laden stuff, and over consumption of fat.

    I was somewhat encouraged by her program’s focus on improving lunch at schools, and getting more FOOD stores in inner city neighborhoods, but “Let’s move” completely misses the boat because it’s the LACK OF MONEY that leads to poor food choices. We already know that parents are overworked and having a difficult time in preparing nutritious meals for their kids. If you live in the inner city, you know how difficult it is to access the cheaper grocery stores. But its MONEY that allows one to buy meat and have the transportation to get to those grocery stores. And women in my city are increasingly attacked after they get off the bus with their groceries in hand.

    I grew up poor, and we hardly ate meat. Govt cheese, milk, and peanut butter were our alternatives, sometimes tuna fish. As a result, I had major problems with concentration in schools (moving around alot did not help either). We relied on huge carb meals for sustenance (i.e., pasta, pancake breakfasts) and had difficulties sustaining our energy levels and we were just kids. We couldn’t even afford McDonald’s then.

    If Michelle had actually done some homework on the issue of the malnutrition instead of who knows where she got her info, than perhaps the program would be able to address some of the real issues. Her attitude just smacks of “I know what’s best for you because I eat organic and shop at Whole Foods.”

    I’m reminded of this story I heard about a school in NYC who tried to address these issues of malnourishment of its students. It did focus on changing what the schools were providing as far as meals and vending machines. But its real success was using the gym on the weekends to get local farmers to sell their wares, have free nutrition and food prep classes, and an opportunity for parents to share their hardships. REAL GRASSROOTS STUFF!

    • Sorry, that got so long, but this issue really bothers me as you can tell.

      • It bothers me too. Michelle is a hot mess, and I really have no respect for a mother who publicly calls her teenage daughter fat. None.

      • I really appreciate you sharing your experience, fembots. My family was pretty poor when I was growing up too. My dad was in grad school and supporting a wife and three kids. Then he was an assistant prof. who couldn’t get summer teaching jobs for awhile. My mom used to have to stretch his paycheck over the summer, and I have to give her credit. I don’t know how she managed, but we were never really hungry. We ate a lot of dried beans, pasta, hamburger, etc.

        • Exactly. Many families can ill afford lean meats, and fresh vegetables, unless you live in the Deep South, are hard to come by this time of year. Her while campaign has more than a modicum of insensitivity.

    • I love your posts, fembot, and THANK YOU for sharing your story. Thousands of children in America still go through what you went through as a child. Nasty government cheese, powdered milk, and not enough fresh, natural food to help energize these children’s minds and bodies.

  19. “BHO and MO come across as yuppie parents who think their pat anecdotes about their family are oh-so-helpful,” I agree completely.

    Obesity is a problem across all age levels; so why pick on the kids? I know all about if you start them out with good habits, they’ll (hopefully) maintain those habits throughout their lives. But the truth is, there are many pudgy kids who grow up to be bone thin adolescents and then thin adults; whilst having made no changes in their eating regime. Just genes; I was one of them. Around nine years old I suddenly got tall and thin.

    I think she should focus her efforts on any group that is more than 10 lbs over the recommended weight for their height, be they children or adults. But then it wouldn’t get all the publicity. The focus on kids is just a p.r. stunt. If she really wanted to make a dent, she’s talk to the adults. I’ve notices that there are families where everyone is overweight –adults, children, everybody. I like to think that adults can influence children more than the other way around.

  20. Dear Administrators, please consider adding this blog to your blogroll. Wanna laugh? Go take a look now.

  21. “the robust evidence that lifestyles are primarily the product of social and economic conditions”
    The food situation has become a “positive feed-back loop”. The food processors have been pushing high fat, high calorie foods for so long that low fat, reduced calorie won’t sell.

  22. Donna Brazile: A new Democratic coalition is younger. It is more urban, as well as suburban, and we don’t have to just rely on white blue-collar voters and Hispanics.

    David Axelrod: The white working class has gone to the Republican nominee for many elections, going back even to the Clinton years. This is not new that Democratic candidates don’t rely solely on those votes.


    Hillary is 44 has a class analysis.

    The campaign is in bad taste considering this:

    Study: Hunger in America jumps ‘unprecedented’ 46 percent

    • 1 in 8 people ? That’s incredible!

      Here’s another thing that has always bugged me … why is it that Obama claimed his mother lived on food stamps, but he didn’t talk about himself having lived on them? How does one get food stamps when it’s the AFDC — Aid to Families with Dependent Children? Once the kid reaches 18 yo, the family is no longer eligible.

      Personally, I believed this claim he made about his mother to be a boldface lie. As WMCB and some of us others have hopefully shown, you never forget what it’s like to grow up poor.

      Remember that seen from the movie “Gods and Monsters” when Ian McKellan’s character talks lovingly of eating drippings on bread?

      Can anyone shed some light on this?

      • I don’t think he ever lived on food stamps. After his father left his grandparents, who were wealthy, upper middle class folks, took care of him.
        It’s possible that his mother was on food stamps, but I don’t think Obama ever was. He went to prestigious private schools and has lived a life of privilege, for the most part. I never knew where this “Obama was a poor boy” meme came from. Most likely his campaign.

      • If Obama’s mom was on food stamps, it was probably for a very short time. The food stamp program didn’t even exist when Obama was a little kid. He was born in 1961. Maybe she got food stamps for a time when she was disabled with cancer (and her son wasn’t visiting her or helping her financially)?

      • When Obama was 2, his mother went back to U of Hawaii while her parents cared for the kid. It was during that time that she applied for food stamps, as many college kids did before eligibility requirements became more stringent. This Joe Klein article is from 2006, before they got much more careful about the food stamp story (see page 3).

        Obama: “For example, I was going to a fancy prep school, and my mother was on food stamps while she was getting her Ph.D.”


    • No one called VA, NJ and MA voters raycist but they called Dem who didn’t vote for Obama raycist the year before. So all the hate against us was motivated by sexism not any real concern about racism.

  23. Another factor Michelle apparently misses is the impact of pharmecutical drugs on people’s metabolisms. My mother is morbidly obese. She originally had pretty slow metabolism, but she is bipolar, and the side effects of some of her anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, and tranquilizers are severe weight gain. On top of that, she’s had four kids.

    By focusing on kids, Michelle is also giving big pharma, another one of her husband’s financers, a huge pass, because most kids take drugs like adderal and strattera for things like adhd and add, medications that tend to speed up metabolism.

    Follow the money, TCers.

    • OMG Little Isis … how could I forget the drug angle? Most cortico-steroid inhalers for asthma, and other prescriptions for asthma (prednisone) make you want to eat walls, so you really put on the pounds.

      My family members who are bipolar have also said the same about the Lithium and other meds they take.

      • Lithium can destroy your thyroid. I speak from experience and it turned out I wasn’t really bipolar in the first place.

    • Speaking from the prescriber viewpoint: Strattera is not a stimulant. It is a prescription drug, but not a controlled substance. It acts more like an anti-depressant, interestingly enough.

      Methylphenidate/ Ritalin are stimulants and controlled substances CII Rxs. They stimulate the brain areas responsible for focus and concentration, which is why they can be helpful in ADHD. They also have some systemic effects, and do need careful monitoring. As does any med for that matter.

  24. the other day MO was telling Larry King that they just had to pass HCR because kids get fat because they don’t have pediatricians to tell them how to eat.
    First of all, most poor kids do have pediatricians and health care because we have plenty of programs that make it so. Poor kids don’t get fat because they don’t have access to health care. They get fat because they don’t have access to grocery stores. They don’t have access to grocery stores because they live in communities where stores can not stay in business because of crime and poverty. There are a whole lot of social problems that must be solved that have NOTHING to do with passing the crappy HCR bill Obama wants to pass.

    • Grocery stores can’t stay in business because of crime and poverty, but liquor stores and fast food joints on every corner can? Bullshit.


      • please wake up and smell the coffee. Liquor stores sell through bullet proof glass and fast food joints apparently do not keep enough cash on hand or do not give a damn about their help to be worth robbing. If grocery stores which have a much small profit margin than liquor or fast food, could make a profit they would be there. They don’t leave inner cities because they don’t like black and Latino people and they don’t leave rural area where the rural poor live because they don’t like poor white people. Maybe you don’t understand enough about business to understand the demands of a grocery store which makes about 2 percent profit as compared to a liquor store or fast food joint.

        Only political correctness and false claims of racism keep people from seeing and solving the real problems poor children face day to day.

        So bullshit yourself.

      • It’s also an investment issue. People are more likely to invest in convenience food stores that sell liquor, cigs, etc. Sometimes these shops do sell obscenely high-priced foods of poor quality (Wonderbread) and some fresh fruit. I’ve never seen a fresh vegetable sold in one of these stores.

        I also want to point out that the fact that AA’s who “escape” the poor neighborhoods, don’t invest in them after they’ve escaped. Why can’t AA owned grocery stores open in these areas? We have one AA owned grocery store, Lena’s Foods, that when it tried to expand to another location, sadly failed. I shopped there once and there prices were so much higher than other grocery stores (which luckily I can drive to). What I wonder is why MO isn’t suggesting that special grants/subsidizing be provided to AAs who invest in grocer business (or any business for that matter) in the inner city? There are very few AA celebs who do this as well.

        This seems to be a different case for the Hispanic community however. They have their own latino grocery stores that sell latino products (Goya, mangos, etc.) as well.

        OT — Oprah’s mother lives here in Milwaukee; it would be great publicity for her but Oprah has invested nothing in this city. Milwaukee City’s population is primarily AA. Back in the 90’s we were known as the 2nd most segregated city in the nation. I find it baffling that outside celebs (like Oprah) ignore it here. Although we do have a strong AA community here, the investment is lacking.

  25. I have mixed feelings on the intitiative. We do have problems with obesity. We do have problems with people eating heathy food. However, my largest issue is that Michelle doesn’t seem to address the financial aspect of it. Not everyone has a house, let alone the ability to create a garden. I don’t see her pushing her husband to create and grants to make community gardens. Also as BB pointed out she doesn’t seem to make the connection between the cut in funding of schools’ physical education programs to larger children. Her programs are only a slight move in the right direction and with the problems obesity creates we need more than a slight course correctin.

  26. Bill Clinton has just been hospitalized in NY! Hope everything is ok.

    They said it is heart related.

  27. Let’s all pray for his speedy recovery.

    Is Hill’s with him at the hospital? Has anyone said?

  28. Someone “in the know” just emailed that he is home now…but there are probably a lot of stories flying around right now.

    Poor Big Dawg! Take care of that huge heart!!

  29. Too many Big Macs over the years 🙂

  30. Well pray hard. I think I’d lose it if anything happened to the Big Dawg, Hill’s or Chelsea for that matter. They are family.

  31. If anything happened to the Big Dawg I don’t know what I’d do. It’s not just Hillary and Chelsea that need him, its the people of Haiti too. Get better soon, Mr. President! You’ve still gotta walk Chelsea down the aisle this summer!

    • You’re right, littleisis, and the people of the whole world need him, too.
      Like many others, here, I can’t stand the idea of losing him until he and I are very old people.

  32. FOX news had doctors on and they said Bill is having two stents and Hillary is on her way to visit him. He will be staying overnight in the hospital. They said he is in good spirits and is recovering well.

  33. How about a Big Dawg thread?

  34. Speaking of Bill, he has been talking about fighting childhood obesity for some time now. He gets out the message without shaming kids, imho.

    • can you imagine him telling a story about how Chelsea was chubby ot got bad grades?

      The only story I remember them telling about her was endearing. She was having (supposedly) trouble learning to read when she first went to school. So they had a parent teacher conference and it turned out, after questioning her later, that she was afraid that if she learned to read they would stop reading to her.

      I was lucky, my Mom read to us even when we were 9 or 10 years old. We all turned out to be great readers and did best in English, writing and lit classes.

      • My favorite Chelsea story – One day she got sick at school, and the school nurse said that she would have to call Chelsea’s mom before she could send her home from school. Chelsea said that the nurse should call her dad, the President, because her mom was too busy.

  35. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35355089/ns/politics/

    (Nice of George H W Bush to send his well wishes.)

  36. Great photo of Bill in NY, just after 9/11. He was in Australia when the planes hit, and still got back and on the ground there with the people before GW ever showed up:

  37. It’s kind of a shitty time to be a kid. If they aren’t being tested into mindless dementia they are being put down with fat jokes by the Prez and his wife no less. I have a novel idea. Why don’t we let the kids go back to having a real recess time? When NCLB came in, recess went out because more teacher time was needed to pass those oh so important tests. Kids today are being dissected under some crazy microscope that searches for fat and brain cells. Imagine what these poor kids will be like when they are adults. They sure won’t be too anxious to take care of granny or anyone else that put them through all of this horse shit. Why can’t kids be kids today? We must create our perfect little beings to compete in the “global economy”. I smell resentment on its way. Imagine what it will be like in the classroom when the teacher is trying to earn his/her “merit” pay. If you think the kids are under pressure now just wait until their teachers start cracking their “smartie pants” whip. The teacher will be thinking, “You little sucker better learn this so I can get my pay.” Seriously, I’ve had enough of this of this aimless banter about our poor little fat, dumb kids. Surely, they will turn out better than Robert Gibbs, the dumbass press secretary!

  38. I am 66 and have never had a weight problem in my life, with the exception of my “mommy bump” that magically appeared after menopause.

    That being said, I think lifestyle has everything to do with childhood obesity. I had recess in grade school, both morning and afternoon. Then all the way through junior high and high school we had mandatory PE, no excuses, you took it, period.

    Then, since my mom didn’t work, like most moms when I was a kid, we ate dinner every night at 5:30. Then we played outside after dinner, until bedtime. Most working moms do not even get home until 5:30 today, what time are kids eating dinner? How many hours pass between their dinner and their bedtimes? Carbs turn to sugar in this case, right?

    Also, too much TV time and electronic games with today’s kids, but you knew that, right?

  39. I’ve been reading articles at Shakesville by Melissa on this issue and my hypothesis is perhaps too cynical on the whole subject.

    On the face of things it appears that the Obama’s are at “best” ignorantly using their children as tools (screwing w/ their self-esteem) and at worst….they are snobby yuppies, promoting more fat-bashing & disability-ignorance towards adult Americans (especially middle & low income) as well as setting a new precedent in child-body-image shaming direct from the white house (as if the messages from media & insensitive family members is not bad enough).

    I predict a major rise in eating disorders in about 5 years.

    Yet, I really feel there is something even more manipulative at hand. Why is this major “health” push happening now? Is it to give Michelle Obama something to do besides doing a periodic organic garden photo opp or getting featured in fashion magazines for the amount of money she spends on high-end clothing, or having her children only limited to being nationally embarrassed about grades?

    Why No…. I think this campaign is much more than polishing Michelle’s Stepford wife role or shaming Americans or cynically using your own children to accomplish all these goals.

    The push for this “health” campaign is a little too well-timed with the overall process of TeamObama trying to promote the Health-scare Bill, that they are trying to snake through congress.

    I think on the one hand the campaign serves as a distraction form the Health-scare bill & at the same time will have long-term psychological effects for people to believe that everything about their health is *their” responsibility/fault (ie: you don’t deserve coverage if you couldn’t learn how to diet enough & then need medical care later relating to obesity later in life)

    And um **cough, cough** doesn’t that seem like a conservative philosophy?

    I’ve just been getting the “its your own fault Americans” and “Doctors need to be more selective in treating patients” vibe from the health “care” related slogans coming out of the White house in the last year.

    Remember that recent announcement about how women (normally getting mammograms at 40) being advised to wait till 50!?!? — or the even more insane recommendation for women *NOT* to do self breast examinations…. I mean… WTF????

    I am just seeing an overall trend of Obama’s group encouraging the medical community to treat patients in a more limited manner & insurance community to cover patients in a more limited manner.

    The emphasis will be on individuals being abandoned by these “health” institutions …. because citizenX did not exercise enough/ take enough vitamins/ read enough books from Oprah’s book club on synergy/ eat enough arugala/ drink enough water/ meditate enough/ turn in enough BMI & personal information to Whole Foods Big Brother — whatever–.. the result is:

    If you are not striving as a perfect greek god, goddess, or baby goddette….

    Why then no health insurance for you.

    ashes to ashes means more fertilizer for the organic garden, I suppose –

    I *am* feeling cynical today)
    ((Sorry for the long snarky-post folks))

    • Hi Madrigal (waves)! Only had the time right now to read your entire post and I agree, this health scam bill along with MO’s get fit movement reeks of conservative philosophy about who is worthy enough to be considered human while the fatties get blamed for all of society’s ills.

    • Madrigal, Indeed it’s a strange thing that is happening — this shaming people into being better — and you’re right, the overall aim seems to be trying to turn us into a perfect society based on looks saying you don’t deserve because of x, y, and z.

      That’s the OPPOSITE of what natural health/alternative remedies is aiming to do. Natural health is about EMPOWERING the individual through taking responsibility of oneself.

      The Obamas are the worse spokespeople for this stuff!

      So as I see it, this is a backdoor attempt to get people to automatically be turned off to any potential for us to utilize the benefits of natural health remedies!!!

      I just don’t see how it encourages the flip-side of this coin, which is to shame us into incorporating natural health into our national healthcare plan. Some Obots argue this last point because many New Ageists and natural health “pushers” are on Oprah’s show and/or live in Chicago).

      • Ya, I DO not like the shaming but also… I don’t think the ObamaPRmachine cares !two hoots! about people’s health and welbeing–

        I think they are creating social cultural agendas to influence a future zietgiest that will enable the further dismantling of any medical coverage that remains. I’m very afraid we are heading towards denying people coverage when they are sick, injured, or dying……all the while …shaming the patient who is abandoned.

        I feel that their agenda is insidious & just plain wrong (I would use a stronger word but I’m trying tone myself down a bit)

        Ha! I actually like organic veggies but I can’t afford them most of the time, I have no backyard to grow them, & I don’t have leisure time to go driving around to find farmer’s markets — if I had the time & money & a less stressful job… I would probably buy organic –
        – and I think being health conscious is cool —
        but people’s bodies are a personal thing….and I
        just don’t like the attitudes of people being sanctimonious & preachy to others about it.

        I was just being snarky w/ my organics reference because…….lately it seems that people from really well-off backgrounds are using health as almost some status symbol & a so-called legitimate way of shaming other Americans.

        I live in the bay area & a lot of people here really DO thumb their noses at people they perceive as hicks & low-brows because only *cool enlightened* people shop at Whole Foods Market….while they mock the hicks who still shop at Walmart or the dollar store.

        I agree that there are honest, egalitarian, & non-judgemental people that work in the nutrition & health fields – which is cool…

        I just don’t like the Big-brother & shaming-style of the Obama agenda –

  40. I’m late to the party but just wanted to add my thoughts quickly…

    I am so, so, so sick of people with no background in health and nutrition thinking they are the next Oprah, not just giving advice but LECTURING us on what to eat and how to exercise. I do remember seeing photos of Michelle in Chicago when BO was running for Senate. She was not as skinny and toned as she is today and I’m guessing it was because back then she was just a normal middle class woman who was working, taking care of two small children, and didn’t have the time as she does now to have: 1) a personal chef, 2) money to pick and choose what she can eat or have made for her whenever she wants, 3) a personal trainer and her own personal gym, and 4) incentive to maintain her weight (fame and designer clothes). I realize this initiative is targeted towards obese children but whenever you criticize children you indirectly blame parents as well. I’m sure if everyone had the luxury of chefs, the best food in the world, and a private gym that more parents and their children would be thinner. Especially in this economy when so many families are at risk of losing their homes and parents stressed out because of their job security, this is no time to lecture people on something like weight. If taking their kids out to McDonald’s for a happy meal is the only luxury a family can afford these days to reward their child for something then bless them because they have a lot more serious problems than just their child’s weight.

  41. I am offended by this discrimination on behalf of Mrs. Obama.
    I am very ashamed of this first “lady”.
    She is no one to talk as she is ugly.

    • Is this the best the trolls can do these days?

      very well…. ugliness is in the eye of the beholder and Michelle’s looks are not at all relevant to whether she can talk about childhood obesity.

    • Oh and putting lady in quotes? Wrong blog. Try Huffington post, maybe you’ll get fanned over there.

    • You know, I miss the days when we got a better class of trolls. Maybe it’s the long term cognitive deficits associated with Koolaid use that gets you in the end.

  42. Thanks for this excellent piece!

  43. I know I’m late here, but I just can’t tell you all how much I have learned by reading every post in this thread-slowly. I also can’t tell you how much it humbled me, for I have never experienced poverty. Some of your stories touched me so deeply, I had to stop reading and return.

    If I could have one wish, it would be that Michelle would get her head out of her arrogant ass and read this thread. She needs to. Badly.

    But that will never happen.

    • This thread meant a lot to me too and I hope that through the Obamas’ judgment of the poor, real liberals can begin a conversation on poverty and food in this country. I really appreciated the stories here as well. I grew up poor and I absolutely agree that when you’re dealing with an unsympathetic caseworker who won’t give you foodstamps, you don’t have a car to get to a nice supermarket, and you’re juggling a dead-end job and taking care of kids, it is almost impossible to actually sit down and think about healthy food options. It doesn’t even enter your brain. I’m so sick of the country’s elite, most of whom have never experienced dirt poor, almost homeless on the streets poverty judge people who are struggling to survive. It’s appalling.

  44. If the government really wants to end obesity (and Michelle is now the government) then they need to stop subsidizing corn and other commodities.

    Reformulated food is wreaking havoc on our digestive systems. The body has no clue what to do with High Fructose Corn Syrup. Don’t eat anything with HFCF. Ever. Stop eating stuff that comes in a box. I know unprepared food takes longer to get to the table, but the processed stuff is killing you.

    We are the only nation in the world where you can be both obese and suffering from malnutrition at the same time. We are the only nation where peanut allergies are almost epidemic.

    If you can’t pronounce it (and it’s your first language), don’t eat it. Really.

    By the way, government farming subsidies do not end up in the hands of small, family farmers. They go to the already-rich. A little over a handful of companies control 80% of the world food supply (such as Con Agra, ADM, Monsanto, Smithfield, Purdue, Tyson). They get the subsidies. Oh, and lots of your Congress-critters get those subsidies too.

    And I think Michelle is the the wrong spokes-model for this cause. She brings nothing to the table, as it were.

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