Michelle Obama links movement to better test scores

(Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press )
First Lady Michelle Obama                          (Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press)

First lady Michelle Obama, in an interview with SiriusXM host B. Smith being aired to mark the third anniversary of her “Let’s Move” campaign, said that allowing students to get up and move around helps them concentrate better and get better test scores.

Here are some quotes from the interview on “The B. Smith and ‘Thank You Dan’ Show” on SiriusXM Urban View, channel 128, first aired Tuesday and again Wednesday:

B. Smith: This month marks the third anniversary of your “Let’s Move!” initiative.  Congratulations on that. That is so important.

Michelle Obama: Thank you.  We are excited every day, but we really try to take the time on the anniversary to really take a step back, look at where we have come because we still have work to do.  We’re still dealing with one in three kids in this country that are overweight or obese. We’re seeing issues with getting our kids physically fit.  On average,  kids are spending 7½ hours every day in front of a screen.  You know, kids aren’t getting the daily exercise they need. They should be getting at least 60 minutes a day, but in our average schools there are fewer than 10 percent of our schools, public schools, where kids are getting daily PE or recess.  So we can see why we’re here, but there’s hope and we’re starting to see that.  We’re starting to see some shifts in the trend lines and the data where we’re starting to show some improvement because we’ve been spending a lot of time educating and re-educating families and kids on how to eat, what to eat, how much exercise to get and how to do it in a way that that doesn’t completely disrupt someone’s life … but finding ways to do these things incrementally, and particularly for our kids, small changes can make an absolute difference.

We’re going to spend two days on the road celebrating Let’s Move and we’re going to the in Chicago highlighting a new initiative around physical activity in the public schools.  We’re going to spend a little time in Mississippi, which just three years ago was considered one of the most unhealthy states in the Union but they have since seen a 13 percent decline in childhood obesity rates in that state.

Getting the family involved with making these meals is also important, and learning how to make healthy choices. That’s really important. Do you, with Sasha and Malia,  ever have a chance to get in the kitchen and make a meal?

Not as much as we used to when we lived in Chicago.  But before we came to the White House, that was one of the shifts I had to make as a busy mother, you know.  Really cleaning our shelves, getting rid of the heavily processed foods, getting more fresh fruits and vegetables and fresh-squeezed juices in, getting them more involved in going to farmers markets and understanding where these fruits and vegetables are coming from. And that was one of the reasons I was motivated to plant the White House kitchen garden. Because I saw how much difference it makes for kids when they are involved in the planting and the harvesting and the purchasing and the preparation of the foods they eat.  It really fundamentally changes their approach to what they eat and what they’ll be willing to eat.

 I’ve always said that if more kids were taught to use kitchen utensils and gardening utensils they would be less likely to use guns and knives against each other. Everybody needs … healthy food and I think it is important that all of us are on the bandwagon of trying to bring our kids up and to bring our communities up … we’ve worked with the Prince George’s County kids … and it’s so rewarding just to see them understanding that growing things makes a big difference. It’s not like walking into a store and having a piece of candy — you’ve got real food that they’re eating.

That’s absolutely true.  And what we know is that what goes into our children’s bodies, how they move their bodies, directly affects how healthy their minds are … health,   obesity rates, good nutrition — these aren’t ancillary issues. It has a direct impact on our kids’ ability to achieve in school. We know that that kids that have daily, physical activity are more focused when they get into the classroom. They can concentrate better, they get better test scores. The same thing is true when they get a healthy, nutritious balanced breakfast and lunch. We know what an impact that makes on their test scores and a whole range of academic achievements. So this is a big issue for this country to get ourselves on track with regards to our children’s health, and in order to do that we have to be healthy …as the parents in the household.

“Let’s Move!” is targeted to kids, but ultimately it’s a family and it’s a community issue because our kids don’t do the grocery shopping. No matter how much they help in the kitchen, they can’t start the meal and prepare it from start to scratch. So they’re looking to us to give them good guidance…

 

 

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss · February 27, 2013