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Sarah Palin Opposed to First Lady's Anti-Obesity Campaign

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Guest blogger Kate Tuttle: Michelle Obama, following in established First Lady footsteps, has adopted a couple of issues to focus on as an advocate during her husband's time in office. For both Laura and Barbara Bush, the issues were education and literacy; for Hillary Clinton, it was women and children's health. In other words, being married to the President and working on the behalf of relatively uncontroversial feel-good issues just kind of go together. So there's nothing really shocking about Michelle Obama planting a vegetable garden at the White House, going on "Sesame Street" to talk about healthy eating with Elmo or promoting her "Let's Move!" campaign against childhood obesity. Except to Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin
On Laura Ingraham's radio show last week, the former Republican Vice Presidential candidate slammed Michelle Obama's anti-obesity program, warning that it smacks of government intrusion into parental decisions over how to feed and raise children.

A quote: "Take her anti-obesity thing that she is on. She is on this kick, right. What she is telling us is she cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat. And I know I'm going to be again criticized for bringing this up, but instead of a government thinking that they need to take over and make decisions for us according to some politician or politician's wife priorities, just leave us alone, get off our back and allow us as individuals to exercise our own God-given rights to make our own decisions and then our country gets back on the right track."

Now, I've read the stuff on the Let's Move website (which has sections on food and nutrition, exercise and other health-related topics). I'm not seeing any kind of massive government takeover of the food industry, and certainly not of individual families' kitchens. What I do see is middle-of-the-road, common-sense advice and information for parents, as well as some policy recommendations for better product package information (so that, for instance, junk food cannot hide its true caloric and sodium loads by misleading consumers about the size of a "portion") and a call for partnerships with pediatricians so that children's doctors get more involved in supporting families to raise healthier kids. Nobody's advocating taking away parental authority over kids, although I have to admit, there are times when I wish I could intervene whenever I see a family of supersized kids whose parents clearly are contributing to their lifelong poor health.

Another kid-focused political food fight is in the works, this one on Capitol Hill, where Congress is prepared to vote this week on a bill authorizing an expansion of eligibility for free and reduced school lunches -- particularly needed in today's economy, where an estimated 20 percent of children (35 percent of black children) are living at or below the poverty line. (Those figures are from 2008, so they are certainly understated.) The bill also sets new guidelines in place to ensure that school lunches are nutritionally sound. Given that many children receive inadequate meals at home, making sure that what they get at school is good for them seems to be eminently sound public policy. Even the relatively conservative FOXNews organization argues that school lunch programs are essential to helping break the cycle of poverty.

Palin's just using this issue to make political hay -- and I think this one might backfire on her. If there's one thing everybody agrees on, it's that our kids deserve the best lives we can prepare them for. As divided as our country is right now, it's hard to picture anybody but the most extreme Palin fan really buying her argument. As this piece in the Huffington Post makes clear, it may be poor politics for Palin to attack Michelle Obama, who remains more popular than her husband (a common situation for First Ladies), and especially for a program that aims to help children's health, an issue with which it is difficult to ... well, take issue. But Palin works in mysterious ways.

I'm eager to see where she takes this -- and whether or not anyone will follow.

next: Putting Baby on Auto-Soothe
111 comments so far | Post a comment now
???? December 3, 2010, 6:02 AM

Isn’t Michelle Obama the one that wants to change Cookie Monster’s name?

Jilly December 3, 2010, 6:24 AM

Palin is a loon! I am still floored at how she got a vp nom????
BTW, I really want advice on children from the lady who has one with a teen pregnancy and the other with so little respect for others that she degrades and taunts people for their sexual preference via facebook! Stellar job Palin!
Furthermore, if she were serious about politics, why the reality show and all the other crap she does? What are her real motives in all this? Go away crazy lady!

Javone December 3, 2010, 6:45 AM

Really??? You’re against fighting childhood obesity??? She is taking this “governmental intrusion” crap just too far. smh

Angela December 3, 2010, 7:18 AM

How dare our first lady provide accurate and helpful information to parents so that they can make informed choices for their kids? And asking our schools to serve more nutritious meals just undermines what every American parent wants for their children, right?

becky December 3, 2010, 7:52 AM

Why not improve the quality of school food whose standards are sub par instead of continuing to feed our kids garbage???
Why would you want to try and feed even more kids food that isnt on the level of nutritional quality that is should be? They (Michelle and Sarah)both should get on the same page to improve the current program instead of trying to make it a free-for-all like Michelle is trying to do.
I can see Sarah’s point in that they are could potentially feed every single one of America’s children on the taxpayer dollar…IMO Obama is awful about giving taxpayers money away!
It is a fact that the current programs income guidelines arent enforced, so anyone who even says they need food can get it with no income verification being done on it to ensure that the kids who really need the help are actually getting it. They ask for income up front, but they never verify the same in the current program. They basically take the parents word for it that they need lunches for their kids.
Fixing the system by allowing even more kids of unknown income to eat substandard food isn’t really fixing the system is it?

mom in charge December 3, 2010, 8:05 AM

Sarah Palin is starting to scare me. This is a ridiculous stance to take. The health of our children at home and at school is the utmost importance. Bravo to Michelle Obama for bringing this issue to the forefront (and not intruding in parent’s lives telling them what to do). I agree with Jilly - from what I have seen - Michelle is a much better role model for mom’s than Sarah. Please keep her off the ticket in 2012.

smoore December 3, 2010, 4:20 PM

I am opposed to Sarah Palin.

weird December 3, 2010, 5:50 PM

M. Obama is trying to ban bake sales at kids schools. I think that’s just too much.

anonymous December 3, 2010, 8:01 PM

Please. She’s not against ending childhood obesity. She is against the intrusion of the government into our personal lives. Sure, it sounds sensible now, but if you give them an inch they’ll take a foot.

Anon December 4, 2010, 7:20 AM

What a ridiculous header-liberal much? It has nothing to do with obesity but rather the continuous intrusion by the government which is a stance all of us should be taking against.

ss December 4, 2010, 9:09 AM

Informing kids and parents about how to eat healthy does not equal a hostile government take-over of our kitchens. Sarah Palin needs to get a hobby.

Anonymous December 4, 2010, 9:41 AM

Sorry but if the government really cared about our children, the first thing they would do is get rid of that junk they call breakfast and lunches at our kids school. The government can make changes that are good for every kid by requiring PE everyday of the week instead of just one or two days, give the schools better exercise equipment and options for kids to use, serve healthier food than pizza, chicken nuggets,so called shrimp poppers and other food that is just surrounded in breading so thick you can’t even tell what it is. Because I want my kids healthy, I feed them a good breakfast before school and pack them a healthy lunch for school. I’m sorry that everyone doesn’t do the same for their own kids but it is not up to me to tell you how to feed your kids and it is not up to the government to tell me how to feed my kids. I make sure that my kids get outside for some exercise everyday and make sure that there is always fruit and veggie in my house. People, it is 2010 and you can’t tell me that everyone by now doesn’t understand that being overweight is unhealthy. As they say “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”. Everyone knows what is good or bad to eat so people just need to use common sense. People should be concerned about a government that wants control over every aspect of your life. Maybe today it is what you eat, maybe tomorrow how many kids you can have or where you can live or what kind of work you can do. I know it sounds silly but who would have ever thought the happy meals would be banned? or choosing to have your son circumcised would be banned? Both of these on going on right now in SF. The government has so many other real issues to deal with, please leave parenting my kids to me.

Anonymous December 4, 2010, 2:41 PM

Maybe Michelle should make it her mission to get the government to stop putting hormones and h.f. corn syrup in all our of food then maybe most of ALL american wouldn’t be overweight.

Rachel December 4, 2010, 6:27 PM

I think you need to go to and read some of their entries on this issue. Palin isn’t against making children healthier. She’s against the government intrusion (like telling fast food companies that they can’t include a toy if the kids meal is over a certain amount of calories). As a parent in a free country, it’s my right to choose what I feed my kid, and as a company in a free country, it’s their right to choose what to sell.

Really? December 5, 2010, 12:33 AM

I cannot believe the amount of foolishness I am reading in these responses. So is the food pyramid a government intrusion as well? Get off of the short bus, people. Sheesh.

pharmacy tech December 5, 2010, 1:48 AM

nice post. thanks.

Confused December 5, 2010, 4:55 AM

It is really sad how much Palin dislikes the current Presidential administration that she would attack a program focused on childhood obesity. Look around there are parenting tips all over the place. We have parenting magazines that talk about nutrition and child-rearing but we do not speak out against these venues. Why? Is it because the person campaigning for this program last name is Obama. It is sad what this world is coming to and I pray that we never learn what it feels like to be under Palin administration.

Rose December 5, 2010, 7:30 AM

Why is it that the people living below the poverty line have the highest birth rate? What has happened to birth control and self control?
Why would you have 2,3 or even 4 kids if you can’t afford to house & feed them properly?
WHEN are we going to take responsibilty for our actions and quit expecting the government to take care of us?

Herb Eash December 5, 2010, 9:00 AM

I am starting to feel like Palin is the Anti-Christ!!! She critizes everything then contradicts it in her own life!!! We have got to start helping each other regardless of what political party you are in. Health is important to us all. Remember those death panels Palin and her cronies talked about, they lied they just don’t want one party they hate to get credit. They are not true Republicans!!! True Republicans & Democrats, as well as Independents don’t spread hate!!!

liebeskummer December 6, 2010, 4:13 AM

For me the school should pay attention on what they are serving to these children. The school is the child’s second home. It is a given fact that parents should give their children nutritious food, unless you do not care of your chil’ds health

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