According to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier today, obesity rates among low-income preschoolers modestly declined in 19 U.S. states and territories between 2008 and 2011.
For the first time in her adult life, First Lady Michelle Obama is proud of our nation’s low-income overweight kids — and she specifically cites her Let’s Move! initiative as a factor:
Today’s announcement reaffirms my belief that together, we are making a real difference in helping kids across the country get a healthier start to life. We know how essential it is to set our youngest children on a path towards a lifetime of healthy eating and physical activity, and the more than 10,000 childcare programs participating in the Let’s Move! Child Care initiative are doing vitally important work on this front.
Sam Kass, the executive director of Let’s Move!, was even less bashful about taking credit:
When we launched Let’s Move! in 2010, many people saw no end in sight to rising rates of childhood obesity. But, today a light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to emerge. The evidence is in, and we could not be more excited!
Many Twitter users took time out to personally thank Michelle Obama for her great work:
— Ukiddnme? (@SeattleLib65) August 6, 2013
— Randy Prine (@randyprine) August 6, 2013
— Janine Rouson (@jprouson) August 6, 2013
— fabucat (@fabucat) August 6, 2013
@FLOTUS GREAT WORK & THANK YOU!!
— DivineBodies (@DivineBodies) August 6, 2013
— Jan Meibaum (@jmeibaum) August 6, 2013
Even the Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, got in on the act:
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) July 31, 2013
We hate to rain on the parade, but does Mrs. Obama really deserve to be feasting on all this praise?
The period of time analyzed by the CDC researchers was 2008 to 2011. Let’s Move! wasn’t announced until February 2010. By the time the program was implemented, much of the observed decline in childhood obesity presumably had already occurred.
But that’s not the worst of it. Scientific American, in an article published last December, said that the decline in childhood obesity among low-income kids began in 2003.
That would be six years before the Obamas arrived at the White House:
A subtle but important shift in early childhood obesity rates in this low-income population seems to have begun in 2003. Obesity rates increased from 13.05 percent in 1998 to 15.21 percent in 2003. Soon, however, obesity rates began decreasing, reaching 14.94 percent by 2010. Extreme obesity followed a similar pattern, increasing from 1.75 percent to 2.22 percent from 1998 to 2003, but declining to 2.07 percent by 2010.
Public health agencies and the Obama Administration have made battling childhood obesity a priority, although these findings suggest that early childhood obesity rates, at least, were already beginning to decline nearly a decade ago.
When, ahem, Republican President George W. Bush was in office.
But never mind all that. Think of all the kids who have had the opportunity to enjoy Michelle Obama’s delicious school lunches.