Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 24, 2014

Doctors to FLOTUS: Let’s Redo Lunch

A nonprofit group pushing for healthier lunch offerings wants first lady Michelle Obama to drop the calisthenics routine and focus on cutting the fat from kids’ diets.

The FLOTUS-led “Let’s Move!” campaign was launched in February 2010. The program aims to stem the tide of childhood obesity by promoting physical activity and smarter eating by everyone.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is taking “Let’s Move!” to task in a series of new local ads that went up Wednesday — they’re posted on both sides of the Union Station Metro mezzanine — denouncing all the exercise talk in lieu of actual action on the nutrition front.

“We believe that the Let’s Move program needs to be redirected in order to squarely address obesity’s causes and to avoid distracting Americans with secondary issues,” PCRM President Dr. Neal Barnard urged Obama in a letter May 1. “Children simply cannot exercise away the excess calories they are currently being served.”

Susan Levin, PCRM’s director of nutrition education, tells HOH that she’d have no problem seeing deli meats and dairy permanently sacked from consideration.

“Water would be perfect for children to be drinking in schools,” she argued, adding that if a milk substitute must be allowed, soy or almond milks pack less saturated fat. And while she’d rather see more beans and whole grains spooned onto lunch trays, Levin said serving veggie burgers and mock dogs should ease the transition.

White House aides declined to discuss PCRM’s gripes, instead citing a litany of food-related policy changes enacted, including adopting the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (which championed adding more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to school breakfast and lunch programs), shepherding 1,400 new salad bars into schools and persuading major corporations such as Walmart, Birds Eye and Disney to slash the costs of fresh foods, bolster vegetable consumption and pull junk food advertising from kids’ television, respectively.

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