Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

‘First Spouse’ should focus on reducing obesity levels

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Originally published on on Fri, 04/18/2008 – 5:40am

There is a prerogative for First Ladies (all women so far) to choose the topic where they will focus their time once their spouse becomes president. Laura Bush has spent her time, has spent her, uh, what has she been doing?

So I am not trying to force an issue for Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, or Cindy McCain to consider, but whomever ends up being the First Spouse should really think about working on reducing obesity levels in the United States.

The Type 2 diabetes numbers and obesity levels are rising. Health care costs are significantly affected. As the cost of food rises, the increase may force families to eat worse instead of better — cheap, processed food isn’t usually the best choice and more expensive, healthier options may be out of range for more and more Americans.

While we may currently have the fittest president ever (body, not mind), the role models for reducing obesity, well, have been, well, we have had celebrities that have lost weight, does that count?

But the three remaining contenders have a background to speak to an audience that may be more likely to listen to them about obesity.

Cindy McCain was caught (or her intern was caught) in a plagiarism scandal when “family recipes” turned out to be lifted from the Food Network Web site.

I suppose we’re all related in a humanist way, but I don’t know how related Cindy McCain is to Giada De Laurentiis or Rachael Ray.

I have thought we were past the point of being obsessed with the recipes of the First Lady, hoping that ended with the distraction of Hillary Clinton and chocolate chip cookies in 1992.

But when I found out that Cindy McCain suffered a stroke in 2004 and was focused on eating well, exercising, and reducing stress, my tone changed a little. Plagiarism is still a bad thing, but this was a golden opportunity to have Cindy talk about the merits of eating better as a society. If she has modified dishes to be healthier, then we would like to know what she is doing.

Bill Clinton, the man known for jogging to McDonald’s in the 1990s, had quadruple bypass surgery in 2004, and no longer jogs to get fast food. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation is a joint initiative of the William J Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association (AHA), and Clinton worked hard to reduce the high-fructose corn syrup laden soft drinks from schools. Already an incredible advocate, Clinton would be am ideal role model about improving the health of this country.

One man in particular who is on board with Clinton’s initiative is fellow former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a presidential candidate himself. I have actually read Huckabee’s diet book, “Quit Digging your Grave with a Knife and Fork,” Huckabee lost 110 pounds after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

As for Michelle Obama, I’m not aware of any personal health issues in her life. And she is in great shape, as we saw recently on the “Colbert Report.” But as an African-American woman, she might be a better role model for how obesity levels are hitting minority communities. Also as a mother of young children, she can best address the more than 12.5 million American children and adolescents who are overweight.

The role of the First Spouse may have its limits, and we haven’t seen any relevance from the post in the last seven years. But the obesity issue is a major health care and quality of life issue in the United States. And every little bit will help.

Written by democracysoup

April 18, 2008 at 5:40 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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