This makes Lois Grooms, a mother of three in D.C., smile. Grooms said she couldn’t be happier than to hear that Obama has decided to tackle childhood obesity.
“Parents have taught their kids to rely on fast food as their meal ticket instead of [and] in case of emergency situation if the parents do not have time to cook a meal,” said Grooms.
Grooms said most children do not receive the guidance they should on what foods are nutritious and what they should do for play, so she makes sure her children understand.
"I make sure my children have home-cooked meals, including a meat, starch and vegetable, with no more than three cookies,” said Grooms.
She added that she got rid of her children’s video games, cable and movies to make sure they will go outside to play.
The number of obese children has tripled in adolescents since 1980 and doubled in young children in that same period, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For children aged 12 to 19 obesity increased from 5 percent in 1980 to 18.1 percent in 2008, according to statistics from the CDC.
The statistics show that American Indians and Alaska Natives were shown to have a higher rate of childhood obesity than any other race, with 21.2 percent. Hispanic children, however, had an 18.5 percent rate of childhood obesity.
Charletta Bohler, a 21-year-old D.C. resident, said her generation is representative of children who grew up on fast food and video games.
“Obesity has shot up because my generation is lazy and we are always looking for quick fixes in fast food and microwavable dinners, yet, we don’t even take the time to exercise,” said Bohler.
Dr. Richard H. Carmona, Health and Wellness chair for the STOP Obesity Alliance located in D.C. and former U.S. Surgeon General, said there are complex reasons why people of color have been disproportionally affected by childhood obesity.
“People of color do not always have the means to buy healthy foods because of their social circumstances and they may be in neighborhoods where it is not safe to go outside and play, so they stay inside,” said Carmona.
Carmona said obesity rates among minorities must not be interpreted, however, because all children are facing increased rates of obesity.
“There is far too much playing on the PlayStation and not enough playing on the playground,” said Carmona.
In her campaign, Obama has highlighted that children need safe streets to walk to school and places to play, healthy food made accessible to all children in every neighborhood and school and awareness of the food they are eating made clear by nutrition labels.
Grooms said that it is good that the First Lady is focusing on the different facets that children are faced with, but added that parents need to take an active role in making sure their children are not stationary or tempted by fast food.
“There is a Popeyes, Wendy’s, Boston Market, Burger King and McDonald’s all on one street, and children are happy to go to every one,” said Grooms.
“My mom always told me just because you lead a horse to the water doesn’t mean they’re going to drink it. Society has to make up in their minds and take the initiative to stop childhood obesity,” said Bohler. “Michelle Obama can’t do it by herself.”