Monday, March 22, 2010

Do Michelle Obama and Jamie Oliver
Stand a Chance?

Are you watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution? Oliver has chosen Huntington, West Virginia, as the locale for his six-week ABC series because Huntington made headlines back in 2008 when it was declared America’s Unhealthiest City based on leading indicators of health. But, truth be told, Oliver’s Food Revolution could be taking place in many communities across the United States -- including, perhaps, your own.


When it comes to what kids eat, everyone always blames the kids, says Oliver. Parents, school nutrition workers, and local officials all pass the buck. They say they feed their kids what the kids want to eat -- things like pizza and chicken fingers and hot dogs. “But that’s absolute rubbish!” adds Oliver. “The problem is not with the kids -- it’s with the adults. Kids are really open-minded. If you make food fun, the sky is the limit.”

Oliver made a name for himself by transforming the food program in British schools. Now he’s focusing on America. And based on the sneak-peek broadcast last night, he has his work cut out for him.

Of course, Huntington’s schools are one of the focal points of the series, which gives us educators a reason for watching. But it remains to be seen if Oliver’s attention-getting schtick -- starting with a dumpster-load of fat representing the fat being consumed by Huntington’s school kids in a year -- will make an impression.

Will Oliver be able to make any kind of lasting impact on the families and schools in Huntington? Will his “Food Revolution” catch on in other places? Stay tuned.


It’s full steam ahead for Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! health initiative. Last week, while hubby was busy in D.C. pushing for national healthcare reform, the First Lady was working hard in her fight against childhood obesity. Her four-pronged attack aims to
give parents the support they need,
provide healthier food in schools,
help kids to be more physically active, and
make healthy, affordable food available in every part of our country.

One of the cornerstones of Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign is partnerships. She hopes to partner with groups that can help get out the campaign’s messages. Earlier this month, she spoke to the National PTA [read about it] and last week she asked food manufacturers to get on board by doing their part to improve products they offer consumers [read about it]. She hopes to involve video game makers as partners, too; she has offered $40,000 in cash prizes for software tools and video games that get kids excited about eating better and exercising more [read about it].

In the weeks ahead, the First Lady will be involving sport teams, pediatricians, entertainers, local and nationally elected officials, and other stakeholders as partners in her campaign.

“Let’s Move! is going to take families out of their isolation and give them the nationwide support they need from a whole range of industries to get our kids on track,” Obama said.


As if we needed more proof...

Did you happen to catch the news report yesterday about a study out of Cornell University? A professor and his brother, who is a Presbyterian minister and a religious studies professor, have studied more than 50 paintings of the Biblical Last Supper. Their study reveals that the portion sizes on plates in the paintings have grown between 23 and 69 percent over the years [read the article].

As it turns out, the artworld offers still more proof that we overeat today -- and that we have created an obesity epidemic of "Biblical" proportions. I fully believe that future depictions of the Last Supper should come complete with a Nutrition Facts side panel!


So it looks as though Michelle Obama and Chef Jamie are going to need every educator's help to turn things around. Thanks for doing your part! Here are a couple resources to get you started:

Let’s Move! -- Kids’ Collections
Use these resources -- including games, activity books, videos, and posters -- to spread healthful messages.

Michelle Obama to 'Shine the Light' on Childhood Obesity Issue
The First Lady’s explains the origins of Let’s Move! in this PBS interview.

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