The Obamas and Food in America: Another Flip-Flop?

Allie Winegar Duzett /

Obesity in America?

Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama launched a campaign against childhood obesity, which is interesting considering President Barack Obama’s past statements on hunger in America.

In November of 2009 — only three short months ago — President Obama “reacted with concern” at a report that Americans are suffering “record levels” of “food insecurity,” according to a report from the Boston Globe.  President Obama was quoted as saying that “it is particularly troubling that there were more than 500,000 families in which a child experienced hunger multiple times over the course of the year.”  In his statement, the President committed to “reversing the trend of rising hunger.”

“In addition, a bill I signed into law last month invests $85 million in new strategies to prevent children from experiencing hunger in the summer,” President Obama said.

President Obama’s remarks drastically differ from those of his wife, who recently stated that obesity is now a threat to national security since obesity is “one of the most common disqualifiers for military service.”  CNSNews reports on how the First Lady plans to combat this national security threat:

Some of the goals include ending what Obama referred to as “food deserts” with a $400 million a year “Healthy Food Financing Initiative,” which will bring grocery stores to low-income neighborhoods and “help places like convenience stores carry healthier food options.”

Mrs. Obama also plans to have the government spend over $10 billion to feed even more children through government programs, under the Childhood Nutrition Act.

So which is it?  Is the real problem here hunger, or is it obesity?

According to the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector, “the major dietary problem facing poor Americans is too much, not too little, food.”  He goes on to explain that while it would be nice for Americans to stop drinking so much soda pop, and start exercising more, “simply expanding the Food Stamp program would not accomplish that goal. What is required is a very difficult effort to change food preferences.”

Can a First Lady make a difference in changing America’s food preferences?  If her greatest idea right now is expanding the Childhood Nutrition Act to feed even more children — in essence, expanding the Food Stamp program, making more food more available to already apparently obese children — it appears as though her plan is likely to fail.  In fact, not only may it fail, it may also be a $10 billion waste of money for Americans everywhere, both obese and not.

Of course, the best part is that both President and Mrs. Obama have the same solutions to their respective problems with America’s food situation: spend more money, and make more people dependent on the government for food.  Apparently with them every problem has the same solution.

At least they’re predictable.

Allie Winegar Duzett currently is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm