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ProJo Editorial: The obesity challenge

Walking To School

Photo (cc) Elizabeth/Table4Five

An editorial in Friday’s Providence Journal looks at First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative and the crisis of childhood obesity.

Let’s Move seeks to reduce childhood obesity rates (about one in three children are considered obese today). These obesity rates contribute to a rise in illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and asthma, and account for about 10% of U.S. medical spending.

The administration will invest in healthier school lunch programs and getting grocery stores that sell healthy produce into underserved poor areas. Communities will also be encouraged to invest in playgrounds and bike paths in order to give sedentary children options to be active.

The program however does not address farm subsidies which make poor nutritional food inexpensive nor federal subsidies which encourage sprawl and auto-dependency.

Unfortunately, Let’s Move does not take on the wasteful agricultural subsidy that makes high fructose corn syrup, a common junk-food ingredient, so cheap. Nor does it subsidize the growing of fruit and vegetables. By overseeing an organic garden at the White House, Ms. Obama has encouraged consumption of fresh produce. But government spending priorities contradict her example.

Similarly, the government continues to subsidize automobiles, roads and sprawl, which discourage walking or biking. It would be easier to support extra dollars for healthier school lunches if the money could be diverted from these other, more dubious expenditures.

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