What the First Lady Means By 'Fast Food'

At summit, urges industry, media to "move even faster to market responsibly to our kids"

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama

WASHINGTON -- At a "food summit" convened at the White House on Wednesday, First Lady Michelle Obama urged food companies and television broadcasters to do more to promote healthier foods to children--and to do it faster.

The First Lady cited a "cultural shift" taking place in America's eating habits, said the Associated Press, and she highlighted as examples salad bars that are now in many school lunchrooms and kids' restaurant menus that offer such items as broccoli and whole-wheat pasta.

But while she said there has been progress, including slight reductions in childhood obesity rates in a few states and cities, Mrs. Obama noted that "we clearly have much more work to do" when one in three kids in the U.S. is on track to develop diabetes.

"I'm here today with one simple request and that is to do even more and move even faster to market responsibly to our kids," the First Lady said.

Click here for a complete transcript of her remarks.

Dozens of representatives from the food and media industries, advocacy and parent groups, government agencies, research institutions and others attended.

The goal, she said, is to "empower parents instead of undermining them" as they try to make the best choices for their families.

At the summit, which went into closed session after Mrs. Obama's public remarks, the first lady lauded the Walt Disney Co. for banning junk-food ads from its media channels, websites and theme parks. She also praised the Birds Eye frozen food company for using characters from the Nickelodeon comedy "iCarly" in promotions encouraging kids to eat their veggies.

She said companies can promote and sell healthy foods to kids and stay competitive and profitable at the same time.

"The fact is that marketing nutritious foods to our kids isn't just good for our kids' health, it can also be good for companies' bottom lines," said Mrs. Obama, who leads Let's Move!, a White House initiative that is aimed at reducing childhood obesity.

She asked food companies to do more marketing of products with "real nutritional value," saying that limiting the promotion of unhealthy foods alone isn't enough. She asked media companies to curb the amount of advertising for unhealthy foods in their programming and to use licensed characters popular with kids to promote healthier food.

Mrs. Obama joked Wednesday that some companies might think they can wait it out and go back to business as usual after she leaves the White House. She said childhood obesity will be a problem for years.

"I didn't create this issue and it's not going to go away three and a half years from now when I'm no longer first lady," Mrs. Obama said.