First Lady Expands Anti-Obesity Campaign to Museums

By Elizabeth Harrington | May 17, 2013 | 4:31pm EDT

First Lady Michelle Obama helps Emilio Vega, 11, plant wheat seeds in the garden on the South Lawn of the White House on April 4, 2013. ( Starr)

( – First Lady Michelle Obama has expanded her anti-obesity campaign to museums, enlisting them to offer “healthy food options,” and change their menus.

Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative is now calling for museums, zoos, gardens, science and technology centers to “join the call to action,” to decrease obesity among children.

The first lady is recruiting these institutions to join the “Let’s Move! Museums and Gardens” project because of their power to “influence real and sustained behavior change” on the eating habits of kids.

“With their impressive reach and great potential for impact, museums and gardens can launch community efforts to create a healthier generation using interactive exhibits, outdoor spaces, gardens and programs that encourage families to eat healthy foods and increase physical activity,” the program said.

So far, 624 institutions across the country have signed up.

One of the goals of the program is that 90 percent of the museums and centers that offer food service will “already offer or will change their menu to offer food options that reflect healthy choices.”

Let’s Move! wants the museums to abide by the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) nutrition standards, which include limiting “deep-fried entrée options to no more than one choice per day” and offering fruit or a “non-fried” vegetable as side dishes “instead of chips or a cookie.”

Other goals of Mrs. Obama’s initiative include recruiting 2,000 institutions in the first year and securing 200 million visits per year to the participating organizations.

The project also placed an emphasis on physical activity, hoping that the museums and zoos will offer afterschool and summer programs.

“Museums and gardens are core community institutions,” Let’s Move! said. “They are trusted in their communities and have the capacity to influence real and sustained behavior change.”

“This initiative is intended to capture what is happening in museums and gardens and also to encourage new activity,” it says.

When awarding the winners of the 2013 National Medal for Museum and Library Service last month, Mrs. Obama noted that three of the five recipients are enrolled in her museums campaign.

“There are some of you who are even members of our Let's Move Museums and Gardens initiative – yes, indeed,” the first lady said. “And you know that I greatly appreciate that work, everything that you all are doing to make it fun and creative for kids to develop lifelong health habits. Thank you for that work.”

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