Thursday, December 15, 2016

Will Trump's presidency derail Michelle Obama's fight to promote school nutrition, curb obesity?

First Lady Michelle Obama has focused on getting
children to eat healthier and to fight obesity
Donald Trump's presidency could threaten First Lady Michelle Obama's eight-year battle to promote nutrition and make available healthy school lunches for all children, Caitlin Dewey reports for The Washington Post. Her policies have been credited with contributing "to several positive trends, including the overall obesity rate among young people leveling off in recent years" and improving children's diets. Obesity rates among children are higher in rural areas.

Obama "has spent the past eight years championing anti-obesity initiatives, pushing an aggressive policy and public-outreach agenda that has played a part in changing how millions of Americans, particularly schoolchildren, eat," Dewey writes. "In a 2010 speech announcing her signature program, 'Let’s Move!,' Obama described her goal as nothing less than 'solving the problem of childhood obesity in a generation'.” She also helped push for the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which required the lunch program revise its nutritional guidelines for the first time in 15 years.

"But now that Trump will soon take power—Trump of the deep-fried taco bowl and 20-ounce Porterhouse fame—lobbyists, activists and outgoing administration officials fear that the president-elect, and his and his advisers’ skepticism of government regulation, will uproot the healthy-food movement Obama has championed," Dewey writes. Trump’s agricultural advisory committee includes Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, who reintroduced deep-fryers to that state’s schools. Miller is on the short list for agriculture secretary.

"Advocates fear that three achievements could be on the chopping block: rules that require chain restaurants to put calorie counts on menus, stricter nutrition standards for school lunches, and an update to the nutrition labels that appear on packaged foods," Dewey writes. "All three were championed by the first lady and enacted by Democratic majorities in Congress."

The School Nutrition Association, a powerful industry group which had been an important supporter of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, "reversed course over concerns that the new standards were expensive and unpopular with students," Dewey writes. Schools complained that students refused to eat the healthier foods, forcing them to be trashed. (Read more)

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