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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
E December 7, 2010, 12:26 PM

I think instead of child obesity, she should make the world aware of the ugliness of Anorexia. So many kids are going through this, but nobody see’s it. We hype up obesity and fail to educate our country about this disease.I dont agree with either of these women most of the time, I just think she should have chosen a better cause. Ms Obama giving the children permission to eat dessert on Thanksgiving, is government telling our children what to eat.

brenda h December 7, 2010, 12:33 PM

Can this woman go away all ready, she’s trying to set us back 50 years.

SICK OF PALINS December 7, 2010, 12:45 PM

When will we be able to turn on our tv, computer, radio or read the newspaper w/o seeing or hearing this woman. I’m sure McCain could shoot himself for pulling her out of her hole. SO SICK OF HER and her family already.

Jane  December 7, 2010, 1:00 PM

Sarah Palin is also against teaching kids about birth control. She has a daughter who is a teen mother, how’d that work out for her ? She’s a pinhead with a following. It’s unfortunate.

Anon December 7, 2010, 2:53 PM

I had an overeight child and I put her on Marilyn’s Plan and she lost her weight so easily. I got a lot if information about the food I was feeding my kids and just made a few changes. It was easy. I think Sarah Palin is just trying to help. In fact anything is better than nothing. Some people don’t have a clue about food and nutrition so how can they be aware of the goodies and baddies in food?

Webra December 7, 2010, 3:25 PM

Please stop giving this bimbo, has been, beauty queen ink. She has done such a stellar job with her litter? (She needs to practice her family values and be a stay at home mom. Looks like they need it…although maybe she spent too much time with them.)

The whole agri-industry needs oversight and the govt. agencies need teeth and the will to enforce. The fox is guarding the hen house. (Much like big pharma. Read Marcia Angell’s big pharma book.)We don’t want the govt. involved until people are dying from salmonella or e-coli
Parents can feed em whatever at home. At school, less choice and more real, healthful food. Shame on Mom Logic for keeping Palin on the radar screen, her 15 minutes are waaaaay over.

not happy December 7, 2010, 3:37 PM

sarah palin is full of herself and gives women a bad example to look up to. she doesn’t like anything that has to do with the president, his wife or their decisions on anything that isn’t in alignment with her beliefs. she is the female rush limbaugh, who needs to be silenced by being taken off the air. sarah is in no way fit to be president. at least the country got it right by not electing her and very old grandpa mccain.

2nd grade teacher December 7, 2010, 7:10 PM

Geeee … I guess I better stop teaching children about health & nutition!!! I better stop our activity on how to read a food label…. how to make healthy choices!!! Geee I’m intruding on their lives!!! this of course from the helicopter wolf slaughterer … should I instead teach them about that???

Gabrielle December 8, 2010, 5:19 AM

Sarah Palin is on a rampage. She wants to get Obama out of office through fear tactics. The government is not trying to take over our lives. Does she really have a problem with helping childhood obesity or is she just a sore looser? She need to find her own cause and help someone instead of trying to bring everyone down.

Yvette December 8, 2010, 8:47 AM

This Palin women needs to stop talking to much what the First Lady is talking about sounds better then what she is talking about.You are a pain to listen to ,because you are talking out of side of your mouth.Or are you on some thing.But you need to shut upand take care of your family.

anonymous December 8, 2010, 9:00 AM

This is not really about childhood obesity. I believe we all want the best for our kids. This is about the government using a non-controversial issue to intrude on peoples lives and rights even more than they currently do. It starts with healthy lunches at school (who could argue with that), well those healthy lunches cost more, and schools can’t cover that additional cost, so that means more taxes being paid at the local level. Then they start putting heavier taxes on junk food until the average person can’t afford the bag of dorritos because they need to buy bread and milk. It starts small, but as soon as they have you hooked, they will take and take and take until Chocolate bars are like gold because we can’t find them in the stores anymore. Palin is not against anti-obesity in kids, she is against the government intruding in something so personal to families.

Nevermind December 8, 2010, 12:14 PM

I’ve read most of the comments and for those of you that are trying to explain Sarah Palins position, it won’t do any good. She explained herself quite well, and you’ve just reiterated her point, however, the people that luuuuuv the Obama’s have absolutely no interest in logic or in anyone else’s position on any issues.
Now, for those of you that do luuuuuuv the Obamas and hate Sarah Palin, you talk a good line in stating that the “evil right”, which she is part of, has absolutely no interest in listening to anyone that doesn’t agree with them. What exactly are YOU doing? Hhmmm? Haven’t you just proven with your nasty comments about Sarah Palin, and not even mentioning the real issue, that YOU are in fact the ones who will not listen to the other side. Since Sarah Palin obviously doesn’t agree with you people who write nasty things about her, you think you are justified to write nasty things about someone you don’t even know. And if she needs to be silenced then so also do the Obama’s and everyone who agrees with them.

Terry December 8, 2010, 1:04 PM

I suppose Palin wants our kids to eat grizzly bear fat and whale blubber. PALIN is WRONG. I think that Mrs. Obama is trying to help everybody have better health…that’s all.

Chris Harris December 9, 2010, 5:50 AM

Nice to see you taking care of this aspect, I am more than impressed to be around..
stokke crib

stinkybrat41 December 9, 2010, 7:53 AM

of course she’s against it- her fat daughter danced all over DWTS and still did’nt slim down. Let’s not forget- sarah palin’s not winning any “mother of the year” awards anyway for her parenting skills regarding her allowing her teen-age daughter to become an out of wedlock teenage mom- how is she in any position to dictate anything about other parents when she is nobody’s role model- not even of her own children?

Elaina Gray December 9, 2010, 4:56 PM

Wow. So many different opinions out here. We have freedom of speech. Sarah can say what she believes. We all can. What I don’t agree with is the being judgmental and the bringing up issues with her family. I have never heard her comment on the Obama girls. Why do some think it’s necessary to bring up Bristol’s pregnancy or anything to do with her children. Stick to the issue at hand. Government intrusion. Plus, if you need clarification of anything she ever says - she’ll be sure to set the record straight. 3rd year on BW Most Interesting People. Who care if she has a documentary show about the state she lives in? She’s not a loon. She’s just not afraid to make mistakes or to not say what she thinks and feels. That should say something. It has nothing to do with obesity. The government DOES stick it’s nose in too many things when there are so many other issues to be dealt with in this country.

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