Michelle Obama: Home food healthier

WASHINGTON — Michelle Obama said Friday that a new focus of her anti-childhood obesity effort will be to help people cook more of their meals at home because they’re healthier.

Addressing a health summit in Washington, the first lady said home-cooked meals have less fat, sodium, cholesterol and calories than meals prepared in restaurants — and save money, too.

She said too many people think they don’t have the time or the skills to cook for themselves, but that plenty of meals can be pulled together in less than 30 minutes for cheaper than takeout.

Mrs. Obama began focusing on the nation’s childhood obesity problem as soon as she got to the White House in 2009. She pledged Friday to stick with the issue long after she’s gone.

“We cannot walk away from this issue until obesity rates drop for children of every age and every background,” she said. “We cannot walk away until every child in this country has a shot at a healthy life. And that’s why I’m in this thing for the long haul, and I mean long after I leave the White House, because I believe in finishing what I start.”

Mrs. Obama praised recent federal statistics showing a sharp decline in obesity rates among children ages 2 to 5 as an important but small achievement. She said it was not enough evidence to declare the problem solved and urged everyone to keep working on solutions, especially among older kids.

“Now is not the time to take our foot off the gas and congratulate ourselves on a job well done,” Mrs. Obama said. “Just the opposite. Now is the time to fight even harder.”

Her strategy largely has been to cajole food and beverage makers, retailers, restaurants and others to make healthier products. Federal legislation and regulations are leading to changes in school breakfast and lunch programs, and are expected to bring an updated “Nutrition Facts” label to packaged products before the end of the decade.

The promised focus on helping families create healthier habits by cooking more meals at home fits that approach.

In her remarks, the first lady talked about working with supermarkets to distribute recipes and offer cooking demonstrations, with schools to develop the “home economics class of the future” to give students basic cooking skills, and with chefs to get them to offer affordable cooking classes in their restaurants.

She promised announcements of new initiatives in the coming months.

Mrs. Obama said research shows that cooking meals at home is one of the best ways families can improve their health. As far as her own family, she said her mother kept a strict food budget, planned her meals for the week and went grocery shopping every Saturday.

“The question is: How do we help families start cooking again, even if it’s just one or two meals a week?” she told the audience of public health professionals, nutritionists, corporate leaders and others in the closing address at the conference organized by the Partnership for a Healthier America.

Mrs. Obama is honorary chairwoman of the nonprofit organization, which was created in conjunction with “Let’s Move,” her initiative against childhood obesity. The partnership works to support the goals of “Let’s Move” and with businesses to bring then on board and hold them accountable for the commitments they make to improve the health of Americans.

It so far has more than 70 commitments from companies of all sizes, said Larry Soler, its CEO.

More in Herald Business Journal

Teddy, an English bulldog, models Zentek Clothing’s heat regulating dog jacket. (Ian Terry / The Herald)
Everett clothing company keeps your dog cool and stylish

Zentek uses space-age fabrics to moderate the temperature of pets and now humans.

Everett engineers learn lessons from Mexico City catastrophe

Structural scientists went to help after the September earthquake there and studied the damage.

DaVita to sell off medical groups including The Everett Clinic

Another round of health care consolidation means The Everett Clinic could soon get new ownership.

Engine trouble hits Air New Zealand’s 787 Dreamliners

A Rolls-Royce engine was shut down and was afterward found to be seriously damaged.

Washington, Amazon sue company over seller training programs

Braintree is accused of using deceptive ads promising information on how to make money on Amazon.

The Marine Corps’ version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is designed to land vertically like a helicopter. (Lockheed Martin)
F-35 fighter costs, $1 trillion over 60 years, draw scrutiny

Pentagon’s ability to repair F-35 parts at military depots is six years behind schedule.

Incidents of severe disturbances on commercial flights climb

The number of cases in which the cabin crew had to restrain a passenger rose to 169 last year.

Funko mascots Freddy Funko roll past on a conveyor belt in the Pop! Factory of the company’s new flagship store on Aug. 18, 2017. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Funko starts to bounce back after disappointing stock debut

The Everett toys-and-collectibles maker also announced the acquisition of an animation studio.

Now hiring: Younger factory workers, at Boeing and elsewhere

The company and its training partners are fighting perceptions of a dying manufacturing industry.