Michelle Obama’s Legacy in Public School Nutrition


Courtney Brown, Journalist

I vividly remember the day in 5th grade when both the Friday pizza and the lunch ladies that distributed it were quickly and quietly replaced. Walking in from an off period last Wednesday, I was again reminded of the subtle changes that had occurred in public school nutrition when I was unable to purchase candy at an Arapahoe vending machine.


The new pizza in 5th grade tasted horrible, and I was confused when I was told that I should play outside every day for 30 minutes. Did they expect me to time it? What if I went out for ten minutes before school, and then 20 after school? Could the time I spent outside in the summer carry over to blizzard days in the middle of winter?


Of course, gross pizza is a small price to pay for lowering childhood obesity rates, so I tried to quiet my sweet tooth and ask a more important question: Did the former First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative work?


The answer I came up with was a very unsatisfying “it’s complicated.”


Most statistics on childhood obesity are out of date or incomplete. ‘Let’s Move’ is not the only organization that is attempting to fix this issue, and rates that have been rising for decades seem to still be on the rise.


Even though I cannot find substantial evidence to support the claim that Michelle Obama stopped the childhood obesity epidemic, I don’t think that her work was in vain either. The first step I took to discover why I couldn’t buy candy at any of the six vending machines at Arapahoe was to visit the “Let’s Move” webpage.


It truly is a noble cause, with the main goal to promote “America’s Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids.” The website provides information on how exactly to eat healthy and explains the importance of being active communities. I then looked through photos published by NBC in an article titled “Michelle Obama’s Legacy: The First Lady Through the Years” and was pleasantly surprised by how personally involved she was in this endeavor.


I saw photos of Michelle Obama spending time with girl scouts outdoors, digging roots for a garden on the South Lawn of the White House, visiting a Walgreens in Illinois, and exercising with kids at a school in Washington. I believe that these experiences undoubtedly changed the lives of the people who were able to meet the first lady, and probably did help them to remember the importance of eating healthy and getting outside.


Hopefully Obama’s efforts have created a legacy that goes beyond percents and statistics, and the attention brought to a public health epidemic will inspire others to take on the responsibility of educating a new generation on how to be healthy and happy.