At the same time that the administration hinted at the possibility of new regulations, it also sought out partnerships with the food industry in what might be viewed as a carrot-and-stick approach. Jeff Stier, a senior fellow at the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research, initially thought the first lady had staked out a middle position on food policy, but now says the campaign has become rudderless and is veering toward the nanny state. Food companies like to talk about exercise because it shifts the emphasis from their products and reinforces the industrys insistence that any food can have a place in a healthy diet. By keeping her critiques of the health crisis focused on helping children and engaging the food industry and public health advocates, Obama quickly found that the middle ground is narrow on an issue as fundamental to American life as eating. Obamas challenge was steep: Overall childhood obesity rates tripled in the past three decades, climbing from about 5% in 1974 to nearly 17% by 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Because of budget cuts, we're losing recess, we're losing gym classes," she said. But the groundwork was laid for the relationship in the years before Obama took on childhood obesity. This is as controversial as you can get. The industry saw the guidelines as a precursor to regulation. Nutrition experts argued they were anything but healthy. Nearly 17% of children between the ages of 2 and 19 were obese in 2012, according to a 2014 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in JAMA, a rate that has remained relatively unchanged over the past decade. An absolute knockout.. Its opposition to Indianas religious freedom law, voiced directly by its chief executive to the states governor, helped force revisions to the act. Wal-Mart came to the White House with a set of goals, including opening stores in rural areas and city neighborhoods where there were no large grocers and adding a great for you label that would make it easy for customers to spot which of the companys store-branded products were most nutritious. Where I think they went wrong is that they ended up doing more harm than good by convincing Americans that the causes of it were things that were completely fictional., Barnard felt the campaign has focused too much of its attention toward reducing sugar intake and not enough to limiting consumption of cheese, meat and grains. Putting Walmarts in food deserts, critics worried, could harm the infrastructure of urban farms, food co-ops and farmers markets that have taken root in such places in recent years. This morning, President Obama signed a presidential memorandum to create the first-ever federal task force to provide "optimal coordination" between private sector companies, not-for-profits, agencies within the government and other organizations to address the problem of childhood obesity. The assumption is that this industry is somehow different than others, and that because people must eat, the industry is here to stay, and like it or not, working with them is the only solution, Brownell wrote. Observers put the blame less on a lack of goodwill than on the political realities of taking on the multibillion-dollar food industry, which has lots of lobbying money and friends in Congress and no qualms about fanning the fears of government overreach when it perceives a threat to its interests. First lady on "very ambitious" plan to end childhood obesity in a generation. The Partnership for a Healthier America will continue to operate when President Obama is no longer in office. Food and media companies also pleaded their case at the White House: logs examined by Reuters showed that top executives from Nestl, Kellogg, General Mills and the media companies Walt Disney, Time Warner and Viacom (which owns Nickelodeon) visited the White House together in July 2011. First lady Michelle Obama visits a school as part of the White House's Let's Move! But low-sodium varieties of some products, such as soup, have been failures at the cash register and scrapped. Eddie Gehman Kohan, founding editor of Obama Foodorama, a blog that has chronicled every food-related facet of the administration, called it a fundamental shift. Nestle, Simon and others registered dismay at what they saw as a departure from the politically charged arena of food. White House officials, however, maintain that they supported the effort and blamed Congress for the lack of progress. But the bitterest food fight of the Obama administration took place in 2011 over an effort to limit junk-food marketing to kids. On the front lines in the war against childhood obesity are the nation's schools, where Michelle Obama said 30 million American children are getting "a majority of their calories.". In addition to the government's effort to support nutritional meals in schools, the first lady said there also needs to be a focus on physical activity in school. Health experts noted the effort as being the first time the issue was taken on as such a high priority by a presidential administration. If theres a silver lining in the numbers, its the reduction in obesity among very young children. All Rights Reserved. The overall childhood obesity rate, meanwhile, remained at a constant 16.9% from 2008 through 2012. All told, 12.7 million children were considered obese when Lets Move got underway in 2010. But there is concern about a group closely allied with the government collaborating with entities the government is supposed to oversee. When the first lady appears at Lets Move events with soda spokesmen such as LeBron James and Beyonc, some public health advocates suggested, she makes an implicit endorsement of products that are responsible for the obesity epidemic. Gehman Kohan, writing in an e-mail, added: It makes for an attention-grabbing headline to accuse the First Lady of caving to greedy private interests that might donate to the Obama campaign during an election year, but that simply was not the case.. Beyonc has just put Lets Move! When Wal-Mart required its suppliers to create tortillas with less salt, suppliers adjusted their recipes. She sat beside two Muppets Rosita and Elmo at a news conference and talked to them about Sesame Streets deal to allow produce companies to use its characters to market fruits and vegetables to kids. She has a celebrity and a status. And so I just want to say how proud I am of the first lady for her outstanding work," the president said, as she looked on. Congress has some sway over how Americans eat.