In the last week we have seen Michelle Obama in the news twice for her fitness antics. First up was her appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in America. Ellen challenged Michele to a push up contest and Michele Obama comfortable won – she did 25 push ups and looked like she still had plenty of strength in her arms to continue for another 25.
The latest news reported on the Daily Mail shows Michelle dancing in front of 14,000 people in Des Moines, Iowa, during her Let’s Move! tour. Let’s Move! is now 2 years old whereas the ever athletic Michele Obama is 48 years old.
“In the past two years, Americans have come together to provide children with healthier choices and and ensure more people have access to healthy, affordable food.” - letsmove.gov
Let’s Move! was set up to encourage children to get active again. It is not just about dance, but dance is certainly a popular way to get an audience of 14,000 people moving at once – although according to The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson there is not much else to do in Des Moines.
What is impressive about the Let’s Move! campaign is that Michele Obama is really making an effort to drive the idea forward. Although we have similar projects here in the UK, the most recent being the Change4Life project, celebrities and politicians are not taking a very active role in promoting the message. Some certainly are making a big effort, but how often do we here about our own politicians, their families or major celebrities getting up on stage and showing the nation that everyone can get active and move?
If there is one thing we can learn from the past it is that well meaning campaigns need to be constantly backed up by words and actions, otherwise people just forget the message. To really make a Change for Life, and not just a change for a few weeks or months, people need to be constantly reminded until healthy living becomes natural and automatic.
Some may say that this level of intervention, promotion and health propaganda should be avoided in a free and fair society, however, recent history has shown us that we really do need that little nudge to keep us on the right track.
The American way, led by Michele Obama, makes fitness and health look like a fun and enjoyable option. In the UK we still seem to be hooked on the bad news aspect, focusing on all the side effects and ill health that results from being overweight and out of shape.
The UK needs a Michele Obama. But who can fill her boots? Jamie Oliver is a great chef and sends out a great message about healthy eating but nobody really takes him all that seriously, and if he got up on stage to strut his stuff this probably would not improve his image a great deal. We need someone charismatic, fit and athletic, well respected and focused. Who?
Well, Nick Clegg is not in bad shape, but the once Public Health minister, Caroline Flint, would make an excellent role model. While Public Health minister she managed campaigns to combat obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. She is also in great shape!