(NaturalNews) In an effort that demonstrates her ongoing dedication to nutrition and fighting the children’s obesity epidemic, Michelle Obama has named organic vegetable farmer Debra Eschmeyer as the new Executive Director of Let’s Move. Of Eschmeyer’s new position, Michelle Obama says, “For more than a decade, Deb has been leading the way in teaching kids about the importance of healthy eating. From classrooms and gardens to kitchens and farms, Deb has made learning about nutrition fun and accessible for kids across the country.”(1)
Let’s Move, an initiative created by the First Lady to combat the children’s obesity epidemic, addresses how many of today’s youth are involved in less walking and more TV-watching compared to youngsters of decades past. As such, their excess weight may not only lead to “social discrimination” and low self-esteem but could also bring about a slew of health problems as they enter adulthood. Everything from heart disease to asthma may develop. In fact, at the campaign’s launch, Michelle Obama said, “The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake.”(2,3)
Although many have criticized the effort, the goal of Let’s Move is to bring increased levels of awareness to this issue, educating people about nutrition facts, portion control and the importance of physical activity.
New Let’s Move executive director: “I don’t silo myself”
Eschmeyer’s new role with Let’s Move appears to be an ideal fit; in addition to being an organic vegetable farmer who also co-founded FoodCorps, a non-profit anti-obesity campaign to educate children about good nutrition, she edited the book Food Justice. She says that the book provided her with a deeper sense of what the term truly means. “Food justice seeks to ensure that the benefits and risks of where, what, and how food is grown, produced, transported, distributed, accessed, and eaten are shared fairly,” Eschmeyer explained. “It represents a transformation of the current food system, including but not limited to eliminating disparities and inequities.”(1)
Furthermore, she prides herself on not wearing blinders when it comes to differences in political parties. She notes that food justice is everybody’s issue and not one that rests on the shoulders of one side or another.
“I like to make sure I’m looking at the right and the left so that I don’t silo myself,” she said. “For example, I listen to Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing a Sarah Palin 2012 t-shirt or that you’re an Obama devotee, everyone should get behind Farm to School and improving school lunch and the overall food system.”(1)
Replacing Sam Kass, who was also the President’s personal chef
Eschmeyer replaces Sam Kass, who chose to leave his Let’s Move Executive Director position as well as his role as the President’s chef in 2014. Kass, who became President Obama’s personal chef in 2005, said his decision stemmed from wanting to join his television journalist wife in New York City.(4)
“From constructing our kitchen garden to brewing our own honey brown ale, Sam has left an indelible mark on the White House,” Obama said in response to his departure. “And with the work he has done to inspire families and children across this country to lead healthier lives, Sam has made a real difference for our next generation.”(4)
The importance of addressing childhood obesity
Although childhood obesity appears to show a slight decline, Dr. Aaron Kelly, PhD, a researcher at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, says that severe obesity among this demographic is on the rise. In an American Heart Association statement, he said, “Severe obesity in young people has grave health consequences. It’s a much more serious childhood disease than obesity.”(5)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 17 percent of all children and teenagers in the United States are obese, a statistic that is three times the rate from just one generation ago.(6)
Written by Jennifer Lilley