In the past year, like many first ladies before here, Michelle Obama announced a cause that she fully stood behind and would fight for until the end. This cause was for a healthier and happier lifestyle for children and adults across the United States of America. Changing the current state of childhood obesity was, and still is, a monstrous task to uphold.
Obama was reported by USA Today as saying, “This isn’t the kind of problem that can be solved in one year, or even one administration. But make no mistake about it, this can be solved.”
From that fateful moment that the first lady announced her initiative, the cause grew in numbers and strength. With such a prominent figure backing it, the fight against childhood obesity was finally favoring the other side.
The first lady’s campaign became officially known as Let’s Move! Its online site credits it as “America’s Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids.” Obama covers all bases of living a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle by teaching children how to stay active while eating right with the new “My Plate” system, which revamps the previous food pyramids.
Despite the significant amount of praise the step away from the Food Pyramids has received, new sources like Esquire were not as impressed.
“Marion Nestle, who is one of the foremost experts on such things, has sung the plate’s praises for being easy to understand and promoting fruits and vegetables, but she also criticizes it for its focus on protein, which as Nestle points out is a single nutrient rather than a separate food group,” Elizabeth Gunnison wrote in her article.
In more recent developments, Mrs. Obama’s call to arms against obesity has not been unheeded, more specifically by the entertainment mammoth Disney.
The corporate giant announced on June 5 they are no longer allowing junk-food products to advertise on the company’s channels and radio programs. In order to make the cut, the drink or food must meet requirements based on serving size, calories and other nutritional guidelines.
Although this campaign move definitely hits the temptation at its core, certain onlookers were skeptical of Disney’s move to brand “healthy” products with a Mickey Mouse insignia.
The Christian Science Monitor sought out Josh Golin, associate director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, to hear his opinion on the marketing strategy. Even though he found the message, as a whole, to be positive and well-meaning, he still had his doubts.
“I think it’s wrong to take a child’s love for the character and leverage that love to get them to buy something. Even if it’s a product we think is ‘good.’ If children don’t understand the process of what’s happening to them – if they don’t understand the way their own love is being commodified and leveraged – that’s wrong. It’s manipulative,” Golin explained.
Forbes also had a number of criticisms against what they called Disney’s “PR decision.” They pointed out that simply because the commercials changed, this did not make the child more inclined to play outside or fix a parent’s oversight.
The article went on to mention that the companies who could truly afford the expensive advertising needed to afford airing on the Disney channel would hardly ever be healthy.
“How many organic legume and grain farmers do you see with ads on TV? A big reason why they don’t is simply because they don’t make enough money to do big-time advertising.”
Whether the ban of junk-food advertising is good for business or not is to be settled among the businessmen. In time, the statistics and hard work of Michelle Obama’s campaign will hopefully yield the results citizens are looking for.
Among the criticism and skepticism, a light of determination and promise shines. The New York Times believes Disney’s actions will bring upon similar plans from competitors, such as Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. After all, they would not have themselves left in Disney’s dust. Simply by banning junk food on its stations, Disney has caused a so-called “ripple effect.”
Without a doubt, the United States has all the tools it needs to stop this epidemic of obesity.
“The only question is whether we have the will,” muses Obama.