White House Stats on Childhood Obesity Decline Pre-Date ‘Let's Move’
10:22 AM, Feb 28, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
First Lady Michelle Obama is continuing her road trip celebrating the 3rd anniversary of her “Let's Move” initiative, appearing on Good Morning America with Robin Roberts on Tuesday and at an event with Rachael Ray on Wednesday. The initial press release last week gave “Let's Move” credit for halting and even reversing the childhood obesity trend of the last thirty years, though the White House did not provide data to back up its claim. Now, a new White House press release links to a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report to bolster its claims, but a closer look at the report casts further doubt. The press release states:
Mrs. Obama singled out Mississippi for special attention on Good Morning America:
While Mrs. Obama credits “Let's Move” for these recent advances, the report from Robert Wood Johnson does not back up that assertion. Here is a chart from the report that the White House refers to in its press release and from which Mrs. Obama took Mississippi's 13 percent decline:
The 13 percent decrease that Mrs. Obama touted is measured from Spring 2005 through Spring 2011. “Let's Move” was launched in February 2010, so the first five years of the time period in question were prior to Let's Move's existence. The time period for New York City is similar, but the Philadelphia and California figures only extend through 2010, ending just as “Let's Move” got moving.
While the Robert Wood Johnson report demonstrates progress has been made in the struggle against childhood obesity, there's no proof yet that “Let's Move” has played a role, and the report does not mention the program. While “Let's Move” has undoubtedly raised the profile of the issue, the White House will have to wait for the studies to catch up to its claims. Even then, a direct correlation between any change in obesity rates and “Let's Move” will be difficult to verify. But if the White House continues to cite outdated statistics to promote the success of “Let's Move,” Mrs. Obama's credibility may be diminished before current figures on childhood obesity become available.