Why Michelle Obama Is the First Lady of Food
Michelle Obama weighs in on the state of family dinner, Mom's lemon chicken, and why America's future depends on what kindergartners eat today.
To trace the origin of Let’s Move!, the first lady’s program to end childhood obesity within a generation, you have to go back several years before the Obama presidency, back to a routine visit to the family’s Chicago pediatrician. That’s when Michelle Obama first learned that her daughters’ diets were out of whack.
“I thought we had it all together,” Mrs. Obama told me recently, but the doctor said otherwise. Like many parents, Michelle and Barack Obama were working full time, and they relied too much on takeout and processed foods to feed Malia and Sasha. So Mrs. Obama took control, cooking two more meals a week—simple fare like baked chicken, couscous, and steamed broccoli—and eliminating prepackaged lunches and sugary canned juices.
“By the time we went back for the next visit, our pediatrician said, ‘What have you done? I haven’t seen these [body mass index] numbers change in such a short period of time in this way in a while,’ ” Mrs. Obama recalls.
I’ve come to Washington, D.C., to talk to her about her role as the most food-focused first lady ever, and it hits me within the first minute of our conversation how personally she takes her healthy food agenda.
“Look,” she says, hammering home her point, “if I didn’t figure this out, I’m sure there are millions of families and parents who are getting it wrong.”