While President Obama continues to wrangle with Congress over the state of health care reform, first lady Michelle Obama is leading the way on preventative care. Beginning last month, Mrs. Obama has been speaking before students, teachers and health advocates around the country in support of her new “Let’s Move” campaign, which puts a spotlight on childhood obesity.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported last year that the medical cost of obesity in the United States has reached $147 billion per year, a finding that prompted the CDC to issue its first set of comprehensive recommendations aimed at reducing obesity rates. Nearly 70 percent of all American adults are considered overweight or obese, and African-Americans are disproportionately affected by weight problems.
The racial disparity is the same among children. Obesity affects one third of American children, and the country spends $150 billion every year to treat obesity-related conditions. However, minority children are at higher risk of having weight problems, as 20 percent of black and Hispanic children ages 2 to 19 are obese, versus 15 percent of whites.
While some black leaders are angered by President Obama’s lack of a “black agenda,” Mrs. Obama has put a spotlight on an issue that deeply impacts communities of color. On Wednesday, she will bring her healthy living message to Mississippi, which has the highest rate of obesity in the country.