Teenage Obesity Increased During First Two Years of First Lady’s ‘Let’s Move’ Program

Ali Meyer | October 14, 2014 | 10:39am EDT
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First lady Michelle Obama sits down with students and eats a salad made from vegetables harvested from the White House garden, Thursday, June 12, 2014, in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(CNSNews.com) – In the first two years since First Lady Michelle Obama launched her ‘Let’s Move’ campaign to fight childhood obesity in 2010, teenage obesity rates increased, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

From 2009-2010, 18.4 percent of children ages 12-19 were classified as obese, according to the CDC. Since then, from 2011-2012, one in five children ages 12-19 or 20.5 percent, were classified as obese, an increase of 11.4 percent. The CDC has been tracking these data since 1966-1970, and at that time only 4.6 percent of teens were classified as obese.

“The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake,” Mrs. Obama said at the time of the Let’s Move program launch. “This isn’t the kind of problem that can be solved overnight, but with everyone working together, it can be solved. So, let’s move.”

“First Lady Michelle Obama today announced an ambitious national goal of solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight and unveiled a nationwide campaign – Let’s Move – to help achieve it,” announced the White House on February 9, 2010.

“The Let’s Move campaign will combat the epidemic of childhood obesity through a comprehensive approach that builds on effective strategies, and mobilizes public and private sector resources. Let’s Move will engage every sector impacting the health of children to achieve the national goal, and will provide schools, families and communities simple tools to help kids be more active, eat better, and get healthy,”  it added.

Obesity, according to the CDC, is based on an individual’s body mass index or BMI which is “calculated using a child’s weight and height. BMI does not measure body fat directly, but it is a reasonable indicator of body fatness for most children and teens.”

A child is categorized as being overweight when their BMI is at or above the 85th percentile and lower than the 95th percentile and categorized as obese when their BMI is at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex.


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Overall, when looking at all age groups recorded by the CDC, the percentage of children who were classified as overweight or obese remain unchanged.


From 2009-2010, 14.9 percent of children aged 2-19 were overweight, and 16.9 percent were obese. In 2011-2012, those percentages remained exactly the same. The CDC has been tracking these data since 1971-1974, and at that time, 10.2 percent of children were overweight and only 5.2 percent of children were obese.

For those in the age groups 2-5 years and 6-11 years, obesity rates decreased from 2009-2010 to 2011-2012. For children 2-5, the percentage of obese children decreased from 12.1 percent in 2009-2010 to 8.4 percent in 2011-2012 and for children 6-11, the percentage of obesity children decreased from 18 percent to 17.7 percent.

The Let’s Move program has attempted to reduce childhood obesity rates with initiatives like changing school lunch menus and eradicating ‘food deserts.’

Let’s Move has recently come under fire because of students’ complaints about school lunch menus and ‘palatability.’

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