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First lady fights obesity in Iowa, but overweight kids are few

February 9, 2012 | 11:54 am
Michelle Obama dances in Iowa on Let's Move tour

First Lady Michelle Obama on Thursday kicked off a national "Let's Move!" anniversary tour, part of her effort to fight childhood obesity, by heading to Iowa. But obese children are comparatively scarce in that Heartland state.

Better she had begun in, say, Mississippi, where there are 10% more obese children than in Iowa -- and where parents also tend to be much heavier.

Obama's visit to Iowa -- where she appeared at the Wells Fargo Arena and cheered on thousands of children in exercises and heart-pumping dances -- coincides with a push by that state to become the nation's healthiest by 2016, reported the Des Moines Register.

"You are the model" for other states, the news site quoted the first lady as saying.

Though the actual steps state officials are taking weren't spelled out, they must be doing something right. The state ranks 46th among the 50 states with an 11.2% childhood obesity rate. This is according to the 2011 report "F as in Fat" from the nonprofit, Washington-based Trust for America's Health.

The July report said 12 states had adult obesity rates above 30%, compared with one state in 2007. 

Mississippi ranked first for obese adults, with a rate of 34.4%, and first for obese children, with 21.9%.

Other states besides Iowa are making an effort to combat obesity. Just last month, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta released ads that were intended to help curb obesity rates -- but they also ticked off some  Georgians. 

The ads featured obese children talking about the toll of obesity. Proponents called them "in your face." But critics said they were reminiscent of graphic, disturbing anti-smoking ads and "might actually make people feel worse," as The Times reported in January.

Georgia, according to the Trust for America's Health report, ranked second nationally for childhood obesity with a rate of 21.3%.  It came in 17th for adult obesity.

The national Let's Move! tour will mark two years since the first lady launched her drive to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. Obama visits Iowa, Arkansas and Texas on Thursday; she has a Texas visit and two stops in Florida on Friday; and then she makes another stop in Florida on Saturday before winding things up. 

That's three stops for a state that reportedly ranks 13th nationwide for childhood obesity. Just sayin' ...

ALSO:

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10 states get to skip No Child Left Behind, thanks to the president

Indiana stage collapse: Company, fair commission and union are fined

-- Amy Hubbard

Photo: First Lady Michelle Obama dances "the Interlude" after speaking at a Let's Move! rally with Iowa students at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Credit: Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press

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