Michelle Obama begins official campaign against childhood obesity

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London, Jan 30 (ANI): Michelle Obama kicked off an official drive against childhood obesity when she opened up about a warning from the First Family's doctor that her own daughters were gaining extra pounds.

"In my eyes I thought my children were perfect...I didn't see the changes," Times Online quoted Mrs Obama, as saying at an event organised by the US health officials to check the epidemic of childhood obesity.

Mrs Obama came to the campaign launch outside Washington with Regina Benjamin, the US Surgeon General, who introduced the First Lady as "everyone's favourite vegetable gardener" after her White House vegetable garden.

Mrs Obama, said the family paediatrician "cautioned me that I had to look at my children's BMI", or body mass index. "He was concerned that something was getting off balance."

This is not the first time that the President and his wife have made a statement about their children's weight in public.

In November 2008 Barack Obama had said that the habits of their children had to change because Malia, 11, was growing "a little chubby".

Mrs Obama had claimed that modest changes to the lifestyle of Malia and her sister, Sasha, 8, had produced results.

It is believed the girls were banned from watching TV on weekdays. They were given low-fat milk and had to cut back on burgers. Portion sizes were also reduced. Water replaced sugary drinks in their lunch boxes. Grapes found place on the breakfast table, and apple slices were sent to school, with colourful vegetables being served at dinner.

Mrs Obama said: "It was very minor stuff but these small changes resulted in some really significant improvements, and I didn't know it would."

She added: "It was so significant that the next time we visited our paediatrician he was amazed. He looked over the girls' charts and he said: 'What on earth are you doing'?"

Kathleen Sebelius, US Health and Human Services Secretary, revealed at yesterday's launch that the US shells out nearly 150 billion dollars annually to fight obesity.

Sebelius, said 650 million dollars of economic stimulus money was being spent on programmes aimed at stopping obesity and smoking and added: "The unhealthier we are the more our healthcare costs will rise and the less competitive we will be globally. We not only have a moral obligation but I would say an economic imperative to make a change."

Benjamin, who unveiled a report listing recommendations for preventing obesity, including eating more fruit and vegetables, said: "The number of Americans, like me, who are struggling with their weight and health conditions related to their weight remains much too high." (ANI)

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