Michelle: ‘While Food Might be Love, the Truth is We Are Loving Ourselves and Our Kids to Death’

By Elizabeth Harrington | July 23, 2013 | 4:51pm EDT

First lady Michelle Obama. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

(CNSNews.com) – If food is love, then first lady Michelle Obama says we are “loving ourselves and our kids to death.”

In remarks to the National Council of La Raza in New Orleans on Tuesday, Mrs. Obama remarked that healthy eating is first and foremost a “community issue.”

“And see, that’s where it gets complicated, because that's where it gets personal and emotional,” she said.  “Because the truth is, for so many of us, food is love.  I mean, it is no coincidence.  Applause for food is love.”

“It is no coincidence that the kitchen is the central gathering place in so many of our homes,” Mrs. Obama said.  “And it’s no surprise that food is at the heart of so many of our family occasions.”

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The first lady then described how she enjoyed her grandfather’s ribs growing up in Chicago, but warned that due to high obesity rates among Hispanic children, we are “loving our kids to death.”

“Nearly 40 percent of Hispanic children in this country are overweight or obese,” Mrs. Obama said.  “Nearly 50 percent are on track to develop diabetes -- 50 percent, half of our kids -- a disease that is already far too common in so many of our communities.”

“So while food might be love, the truth is that we are loving ourselves and our kids to death.”

(AP Photo)

“So we need to step up,” she said.  “We need to own this as a serious problem in our communities.  We need to admit that what we’re doing simply isn’t working anymore.”

The first lady also urged Americans to “question their beliefs,” saying:

“And we need to start questioning the behaviors and beliefs that are making our kids sick -- like that uncle, dear uncle who dismisses this issue, but keeps slipping our kids candy; the grandmother who insists that a chubby baby is a healthy baby; the overworked sister who gives your nieces and nephews the foods they want instead of the nutrition they need.”

“Because times have changed,” Mrs. Obama said, “and the way we live and eat has to change, too.”

But Mrs. Obama says she’s not a “treat hater,” and emphasized moderation.  “Grandpa doesn’t have to forsake his ribs,” she said.

“Special occasions call for special foods,” she said.  “And treats, children, are an important part of childhood.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not a treat hater.  They matter for adults as well.”

During her remarks to La Raza, an Hispanic civil rights group, the first lady highlighted her anti-obesity campaign “Let’s Move!” and the launching of “Mi Plato,” a Spanish language guide to the food groups.

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