Washington : First Lady Michelle Obama stepped into the limelight Tuesday to lead a campaign that will seek ways of reducing childhood obesity, which affects nearly one third of children in the US.
The new public awareness campaign marks one of the highest-profile policy assignments yet for the first lady since President Barack Obama took office in January last year.
The Obamas hope to improve coordination within the government and work with parents, schools and communities to improve nutrition, increase exercise and change other habits of US children.
The first lady cited statistics showing that obesity rates among children have tripled over the past three decades, increasing the chances of health problems like heart disease, diabetes and cancer later in life.
Obama said her task was to “rally our nation to achieve a single but very ambitious goal, and that’s to solve the problem of childhood obesity in a generation, so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight.”
Obama related the struggle for parents to raising her own two children, 8-year-old Sasha and 11-year-old Malia. The first lady would often feed her children fast food and microwave meals until a “wake-up call” from her pediatrician forced a change in her habits.
President Obama also created an inter-governmental taskforce to find ways of improving coordination. He said childhood obesity was “one of the most urgent health issues that we face in this country.”