Published February 21, 2010
First lady Michelle Obama wants to bring quality staples to the "food deserts" of America, telling Fox News host Mike Huckabee that part of her "Let's Move" campaign to reduce childhood obesity is to locate grocery stores that provide healthy food in underserved areas.
"There are places without access to grocery store. There were places we visited in Philadelphia they haven't had a grocery store in a decade," Michelle Obama said in an exclusive interview taped in Philadelphia for "Huckabee."
"We have to eliminate food deserts. One of the goals of Let's Move is eliminate food deserts in seven years. Ambitious goal, but I think we can do it if we work together."
The first lady said 23.5 million Americans live in areas without easy access to foods like fruits and vegetables. She pointed to a $400 million healthy food financing initiative as a way not only to help kids eat healthy but develop "an economic engine" in poor communities.
"It's really not about just what our kids eat but what their communities are like. You can't live in a community that doesn't have food in it. That's the basic foundation," she said.
Obama announced her new campaign against childhood obesity earlier this month. She said part of the reason that one-third of children today are obese is their lifestyle habits, including spending seven and a half hours per day perched in front of electronic entertainment.
She said she's prohibited her kids from watching television on weekdays, and made other small changes in their lifestyle after their pediatrician warned that Sasha and Malia were on a bad trajectory because of their eating habits and other behaviors.
"I come here because I'm a mom. This is how I became aware of the issue in my own kids. Life changed for families in a way that I can see. You know, we're busier. We're less active. Our kids watch more TV. Sometimes it's hard to get outside. Drive-through fast food. It's easier and cheaper. As a result, we're seeing effects on our kids. And I saw it on mine. It was because of my pediatrician that just sort of waved a red flag," she said.
Huckabee, a former Republican presidential candidate, told FoxNews.com that he and the first lady shared the same view of obesity. Formerly obese himself, during his 10 years as governor of Arkansas, Huckabee made it a goal to fight the increased weight problems of young people.
"Arkansas was the only state that reversed the trend of childhood obesity, the rate actually declined and we did a lot of things very aggressively to do that. It was a priority," Huckabee said.
Obama said her approach is not a top-down government nanny state, but something that allows families to custom-fit solutions for themselves. That includes easier-to-read food labeling, self-designed diets informed by doctors and aggressive action by parents, coaches, communities and others.
"Most of our kids get the majority of the calories from the meals they eat in schools. We have an opportunity to work with the federal government and the school lunch providers to figure out how to make those meals healthier," she said.
"People who make soft drinks, people who make food for school lunches, it's community groups, it's businesses who make decisions about where they're going to locate grocery stores. It's our media. It's Disney, it's Nick TV. It's everyone that has an impact on the health and life of our children, our teachers. So it's all of us," Obama added.
"This is a solvable issue because it's, you know, it's community-based. I said this in my launch speech, this doesn't require new technology, or, you know, new research. We have the solution in our hand. But it takes a coordinated effort."
In a rare appearance on Fox News, Obama said she too doesn't watch a lot of television news because "like when you work above the shop, you can't just bring work home.
"I want to formulate my opinions based on experiences that I have. I'll read clips, you know, I
get headlines but I tend -- I try to keep home kind of a news-free zone," she said, adding when President Obama comes home, she doesn't want to bombard him with questions.
"Let him have some dinner, play a little, play Sorry or some kind of game with the kids. And sort of bring it down."
Mike Huckabee's exclusive interview with First Lady Michelle Obama will air at 11 p.m. on Fox News Channel.
For more information on Michelle Obama's campaign, visit www.letsmove.gov