Earlier this week, Michelle Obama had lunch in the new Washington, D.C., Shake Shack and ordered a hamburger, fries, a chocolate shake, and a Diet Coke. Sounds like a typical American meal on the go, right? Well, the First Lady is receiving large amounts of criticism for her meal choice, in light of her "Let's Move" anti-obesity campaign. Is the real problem Mrs. Obama's food choice, or is it our inability to think about things critically and our extreme reactions to everything we read in the news?
"A firestorm of controversy has erupted over the news that the woman who spearheaded the anti-obesity “Let’s Move” campaign consumed a meal totaling 1,700 calories — the equivalent of a day’s worth of calories. Critics have labeled Mrs. Obama a hypocrite. They rebuked her for publicly raising awareness regarding the scourge of childhood obesity while privately enjoying a high cholesterol festival. Never mind that Mrs. Obama has stressed moderation and has also followed a laudable exercise regime, waking at 4:30 a.m. each morning to hit the treadmill and lift weights–-as evidenced by her chiseled arms," writes Stacy Perman for the Wall Street Journal.
There’s no doubt about it. Politicians and celebrities are closely watched by the media, and I suspect those journalistic critics are often guilty themselves of gorging on unhealthy snacks as they idly type away their criticisms of others. The point of Mrs. Obama’s food and wellness campaign isn’t that we can never indulge in fast food and treats; the point is everything in moderation. While I feel a hamburger is a healthy addition to a well-balanced diet, sugary and salt-ladened foods like shakes and fries certainly can be enjoyed on occasion. The way to fight obesity in this country is a healthy diet, with perhaps a few splurges, combined with some kind of regular physical activity.
While I’m a proud supporter of beef in the diet, I don’t believe in telling people what they should and shouldn’t eat. However, what bothers me is the extremism I see in diets. Consumers often read one negative thing in the media and then ban that item from their diets forever. I believe food choices should be based on real information, not scare tactics and misinformation touted by folks who want to sell newspapers.
So, let Mrs. Obama enjoy her Shake Shack meal in peace, and let's focus on the real issues facing this country -- energy, food security, unemployment, health care and the deficit. And, while we are talking politics, this week's BEEF magazine poll found on the homepage asks, Does Barack Obama merit a second four-year term as U.S. President? With nearly 500 votes, 90% of you say no. Add your two cents and vote in our poll today!