On Thursday, Michelle Obama declared that Republicans were playing politics with children’s health by seeking to cut funding for her failed school lunch initiative, which has cost taxpayers billions of dollars without making kids healthier.
But the First Lady is convinced she is doing the work parents won’t. “We are seeing glimmers of progress,” she writes in The New York Times. “Tens of millions of kids are getting better nutrition in school; families are thinking more carefully about food they eat, cook and buy; companies are rushing to create healthier products to meet the growing demand; and the obesity rate is finally beginning to fall from its peak among our youngest children.”
Like her husband, the First Lady apparently has no problem taking credit for events entirely beyond her control.
Childhood Obesity Rates Are Up Since 1999. Since the end of the last century, US childhood obesity rates have reportedly climbed dramatically for children aged 2 to 19, including a huge jump for those who are severely obese. That study, conducted by JAMA Pediatrics, found that obesity rates had moved from 14.5 percent in 1999-2000 to 17.3 percent in 2011-2012.
Our Youngest Are Super-Fat. Note Michelle Obama’s language: “the obesity rate is finally beginning to fall from its peak among our youngest children.” Now, here’s the reality: while the CDC claimed that obesity rates among children 2-5 had fallen over the last decade, the reality is that the CDC itself doubted its statistics. CDC researcher Cynthia Ogden explained that its statistics “should be interpreted cautiously.” She’s right. The only way to achieve a “drop” in obesity among our youngest is by using outlier year 2003 as a baseline. “In 2003 there was an unusual spike in the number for whatever reason – probably an error,” explained Asheley Cockrell Skinner of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “When you take a long view from 1999 to now, you don’t see that decline.”
Adult Obesity On The Rise. According to Gallup, the adult obesity rate has risen fairly dramatically since 2008. The year before President Obama took office, the annual obesity rate was 25.5 percent. In 2013, it was 27.2 percent. The uptick from 2012 to 2013 was the “largest year-over-year increase since 2009.”
Cost of School Nutrition Rising. According to the New America Foundation, federal school nutrition programs cost $16.3 billion in cash and commodity payments in 2014. In 2006, the cost was reportedly $8 billion. Approximately 70 percent of all school lunches are provided with no cost to the students. Our kids aren’t getting skinnier.
Kids Aren’t Eating Lunch. According to a government audit released in February, one million students have stopped buying lunch at schools, with school districts even informing the government that they had to purchase potato chips to meet calorie requirements from the government.
But the goal of this program is not to actually lower childhood obesity. It’s to remove responsibility from parents for parenting. Kids are not fat because of school lunches, which have been available for decades. Kids are fat because of lack of parenting. And the First Lady’s insistence that she can parent in place of actual parents – with our tax dollars – is not just bound to fail but to undermine personal responsibility.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.