Michelle Obama’s Food Fight: Will She Back Down Again?

The first lady opposes legislation to let schools opt out of nutrition rules aimed at combating childhood obesity. 

First lady Michelle Obama speaks about children eating healthy food in schools during an event in the East Room at the White House Feb. 25, 2014. 
First lady Michelle Obama speaks about children eating healthy food in schools during an event in the East Room at the White House Feb. 25, 2014.  Mark Wilson/Getty Images

HOUSE BILL COULD HARM EFFORTS TO REDUCE BLACK CHILDHOOD OBESITY 

The News: The House Appropriations Committee passed a measure to roll back school-nutrition guidelines central to Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign against the epidemic of overweight and obese children.

As part of a Republican-authored $21 billion agriculture-spending bill, schools would be allowed to opt out of requirements for food served in the federal free or reduced-lunch program. About 32 million pupils participate in the program each day.

About 17 percent of all children between ages 2 and 19 are overweight. The problem is worst among African-American children, with 36 percent of them in that age group obese. Another 15 percent of them are overweight.

Over the past 30 years, the percentage of obese children ages 6 to 11 has nearly tripled and the share of obese youths 12 to 19 has more than quadrupled.

The White House changed the school-lunch program in 2010 to include more fresh vegetables and fruit, smaller portions and calories, and less sodium.

Republican lawmakers are siding with groups that say schools are struggling to meet the new requirements and are wasting tons of food because students won’t eat it.

The first lady wrote an op-ed article last week objecting to the new bill. Congress could vote on it in a few weeks.

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