The First Lady's decision to make childhood obesity her issue is getting predictable pushback.
(Above, the trailer from Precious, for which Gibourey Sidibe was nominated for a best actress Oscar.)
You're not their mama, and you're wasting the government's money. Besides, you're picking on fat kids.
The critics should read this week's New England Journal of Medicine.
Researchers from New York looked at data on American Indian children, in a tribe where obesity has long been a problem.
The fattest kids were more than twice as likely to die before age 55 as the thin ones. They didn't die cheap, either. They died from diabetes, from hypertension, from cancer, and from alcoholism, which can be made worse by diabetes.
Food can be a drug. It is often used as one. American holidays are filled with sweets, Valentine's Day being just one example. But what do kids get at Easter, at Halloween, at Christmas? Candy, sweets, empty calories.
Nothing wrong with that, if it's a treat. But kids get it every day, in sodas, from vending machines, hammered into their heads through TV.
Food is comfort, but comfort can also kill if you're getting too much of it.
There are two sides to this program. Both sides have popular advocates
Food is one of them, and the First Lady is following in the foodsteps of Jamie Oliver, who began campaigning to improve what the English call school dinners years ago.
The name of the program, Let's Move, describes the second leg to the program, exercise. Here, existing programs like the NFL's Play60 can be part of the solution.
Money is being spent, too. There is $400 million to bring green grocers into poor neighborhoods. There's $5 billion to expand farmers' markets, and $1 billion per year to improve school lunches (what Americans call school dinners).
That's where the critics will weigh in.
But today one-third of all American kids are obese, one-third of those born in 2000 will wind up diabetic, and obesity-related illness is now estimated to be $147 billion. That's just about what drug abuse costs. Critics don't object to government funding for programs about drugs and sex. This is the same thing.
In the end, however, the battle over food is a fight about market incentives. All our present market incentives steer families toward obesity. Incentives can be changed. Every dollar you put into one incentive can be taken out of somewhere else.
That's the real battle.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com