News / USA

First Lady Urges African Americans to Focus on Childhood Obesity

In an address to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), First Lady Michelle Obama has spoken about the campaign she launched earlier this year against childhood obesity.  

Mrs. Obama's "Let's Move" campaign, which she launched this past February, aims to shine a constant spotlight on childhood obesity in the United States, and the millions of young people at risk of developing related serious health conditions.

According to government statistics, one in three children in the United States is overweight or obese, with black and Hispanic children facing the greatest risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses related to obesity.

Addressing the nation's largest and oldest civil rights organization at its 101st annual convention in Kansas City, in the central U.S. state of Missouri, Mrs. Obama said the African-American community in particular is suffering negative effects.

"We are living today in a time where we are decades beyond slavery, we are decades beyond Jim Crow [former segregationist laws] when one of the greatest risks to our children's future is their own health," she said.

Major goals of Mrs. Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign include empowering parents and caregivers, providing healthier foods to American schools and U.S. communities, and increasing physical activity.

The First Lady has announced a revised web site for her "Let's Move!" campaign where she will conduct a live web chat on Tuesday at 1400 UTC

In her address to the NAACP,  Mrs. Obama equated the commitment needed to tackle the obesity problem, including efforts to bring better quality foods to disadvantaged communities, with the commitment required during the U.S. civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

Without action, Mrs. Obama said, African-American children will not be able to fulfill the hopes of those who came before them.

"Will you move with me?  Let us move!  I am going to need you NAACP, this is not an endeavor that I can do by myself, we cannot change the health our community alone, I am going to need each and every single one of you to work together for this campaign for our children's future," she said.

Mrs. Obama's address to the NAACP was the first event on a busy schedule for the week in which she will make her first visit to the U.S. Gulf coast to see damage caused by the oil spill.

In Panama City, Florida she will meet with local people and inspect beaches where oil has washed ashore.

On Tuesday, the Obama administration rolls out another major health initiative when senior officials announce the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

What the administration calls its "comprehensive plan" aims to reduce the number of people who become infected with HIV,  increase access to care, and reduce HIV-related health disparities.

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