First Lady warns of obesity's economic challenge
March 15th, 2011
01:19 PM ET

First Lady warns of obesity's economic challenge

WASHINGTON (CNN) - In an era of tightening budgets, First Lady Michelle Obama told city officials from across the country Tuesday that they must not lose sight of the economic impact the childhood obesity epidemic has on their communities.

“The last thing you need during times like these is a new issue on your plates,” Obama acknowledged to local officials from across the country Tuesday at the National League of Cities Conference in Washington, D.C. But the obesity epidemic is one of the many culprits responsible for pressuring local budgets and stifling economic growth – “50 million dollars per 100 thousand residents,” in the cities with the 10 highest obesity rates Obama said.

“Childhood obesity is affecting your workforces too – obese children are less healthy and miss more school on average,” leading to more parental tardiness and absenteeism at businesses in their communities, she said. “When we talk about childhood obesity we are talking about the workforce you are trying to build, businesses you are trying to attract, budgets you are trying to balance everyday,” Obama said warning that businesses may be reluctant to invest and build in communities with an unhealthy future workforce.

Obama said it was not a “one size fits all solution,” but rather up to localities themselves to design programs to deal with the issue. “You don’t have to pass sweeping new ordinances on this issue, sometimes it is very simple common sense ideas that can make a big difference,” she said citing an example in Arlington, Texas that provided pedometers to every school district.

Casting the effort as bi-partisan in nature, Obama said communities might try anything from building a grocery store to revitalize a neighborhood, to building more sidewalks to help reduce health costs and strains on local budgets.

In addition to her remarks, the first lady has been traveling the country to explain the long-term consequences of childhood obesity for the economy and national security. In a January visit to Fort Jackson in South Carolina, Obama said the epidemic has an adverse effect on the military’s ability to recruit with over 25% of 17-24 year olds deemed too overweight to serve.


Topics: Michelle Obama

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soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Jay in NC

    This is not a very flattering image of The First Date. I wonder if that is the look she gives Barry when she demands her obligatory date night?

    March 15, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  2. Jaundalynn

    Wham bam thank you, ma’am, my quetsinos are answered!

    June 23, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • Lian

      From this post and the majority of mceomnts here it is so clear why right wing Republicans have lost and will continue to lose for years to come. Either they only care about partisan wingnut spin and smear as a destructive weapon no matter the cost to the country and its separation from reality, or else they are ignorant and stupid enough to believe it.Your fantasy days are over... get used to it.

      March 4, 2012 at 12:31 am |
  3. Scout

    I'll try to put this to good use imdmeitaely.

    June 24, 2011 at 11:58 am |