Beaufort County should move

Published 12:05 am Saturday, February 11, 2012

While President Obama’s approval rating hovers somewhere in the 50 percent range, America’s approval of his spouse is not so ambivalent. In recent polls, the first lady outranks her husband with a 66 percent approval rating.

Two-thirds of the American population likes Michelle Obama.

There’s little confusion as to why the president’s wife is so popular. She’s intelligent, attractive, and more importantly, approachable. Case in point, late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon picked up on a statement she made in a speech, that she was willing to “make a fool of herself” to get kids off the couch and moving with her “Let’s Move!” campaign.  This week, Fallon challenged the first lady to hold true to the statement, inviting her to participate in an entertaining skit in which he and Michelle Obama faced off in various competitions. Highbrow, those competitions were not. The two squared off for stair racing, tug-of-war, dodgeball, hula-hooping and a push-up competition in which the first lady left Fallon in her dust.

Perhaps Michelle Obama is the only first lady in U.S. history to pull off gracefully winning a potato sack race.

Amusing short that it was, the purpose was to bring attention to Mrs. Obama’s very worthy cause: reducing childhood obesity. Childhood obesity can lead to asthma, lifelong battles with diabetes, high blood pressure and a host of other medical problems.

Obesity statistics in the U.S. are growing each year, a trend attributed to the increased consumption of unhealthy foods combined with sedentary lifestyles. A sedentary lifestyle established as a child is hard to shake as an adult, and Mrs. Obama’s program is meant to get kids to create healthier habits and encourage them to keep those habits for a lifetime.

This is particularly applicable in the South, in North Carolina and Beaufort County. In 2011, the statistics say that North Carolina is the 14th most obese state in the union. Of the 13 states ahead of our own, nine of them are in the south with Mississippi topping the list. Thirty-four percent of Mississippians are obese, though North Carolina’s not far behind at 30 percent. According to a 2009 study, 15 percent of children ages 2-18 in Beaufort County are obese and another 16 percent are overweight.

This is the target audience for the first lady’s “Let’s Move!” program, and if we want a happy, healthier next generation in Beaufort County, we should all get moving and help our children and grandchildren do the same. Political affiliation need not apply.