Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

May 22, 2011 11:58 AM

Michelle Obama

First Lady Michelle Obama has stepped forth on two issues which do not necessarily draw extraordinary attention, but at least one of them may be the most important health issue of our time.

One issue that she has focused on is military families, who certainly are deserving of the attention.

Of greater impact, however, is her attention to excess fatness in children. [WW, written by a fat person, uses words that most folks use, “fatness” as opposed to obesity.]

The social implications of fatness generally, and excess fatness in particular, are significant. But the health implications of this disease is one of the most significant health issues facing this country today.

Excess fatness is a driver of a variety of other life changing health problems, ranging from diabetes to joint replacement and heart trouble.

In the roughly 30 years between 1976-80 and 2007-08 obesity among young people 2-19 years of age tripled from 5.5% to 16.9%. Among those 2-5 years of age there was a doubling; among those 6-11 years of age there was a tripling; and among those 12-19 years of age obesity increased by 3.5 times.

Among adults (20-74 years of age) obesity grew by 2.5 times, from 16.4% to 40.3%. [Center for Disease Control and Prevention]

Fat young people become fat adults and then some. This is likely to be seen over time as the First Lady’s seminal contribution during the Obama Administration.

69% of the public has a favorable opinion of Mrs. Obama. This compares with the 69% favorable rating enjoyed by Laura Bush, and the 49% favorable rating of Hillary Clinton at similar points in their tenure as First Lady. [Pew 3/11,Gallup]

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