Imagine a world where elementary school teachers are required to take daily breaks from teaching to monitor the students’ glucose levels. Imagine a world where nearly every student in elementary schools suffers from diabetes. This is the world that we are headed towards. According to First Lady Michelle Obama, the founder of the Let’s Move Campaign to reduce obesity rates, nearly 33 percent of American children are overweight or obese. She also explained on her Let’s Move government-funded web page that if Americans don’t change the accepted eating standards, that one-third of all people born after the year 2000 will develop diabetes during their lifetimes. The Let’s Move Campaign is “dedicated to solving the problems of obesity in a generation” (Learn the Facts)and effectively distributes information to parents, teachers, officials, and youth through interactive government-funded sites, social media, print and televised media, and through White House press releases to increase awareness.
Obama has been distributing information on the risks of obesity since the launch of her Let’s Move project on Feb. 9 2010 (Learn the Facts). Her campaign’s web page explains that “obesity is defined as excess body fat” and offers a body mass index calculator to determine the percentage of fat within a child’s body (Getting Started). Obama is trying to change the world for the better; however, some people are upset with her healthy lifestyle project.
Many families became outraged when Obama planted a garden with local students and her family on the White House property (Hellmich). Her objectives were to teach young children about healthy habits and to be an example to other families. However, many Americans took her actions as criticisms to their parenting. Those families felt that it was not Obama’s business what they feed their children. They have been reluctant to allow another aspect of the government’s hand in their lives.
Even if those people believe that it is not Obama’s business whether or not their kids fall in a healthy weight range, those people need to arm themselves with information regarding the health risks of obesity. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, children who are obese are more likely to become obese adults and are at an even higher risk for severe complications. Adults who are obese are more susceptible to the development of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. There is more of a chance that people with weight issues will have trouble breathing, joint pain, fatty liver disease, and self-image issues with depression (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). If more people knew about the health risks associated with being overweight, more people would take cautionary steps to ensure that their loved ones become healthy.
Obama’s objectives are to:
- “Solve obesity in a generation” (Learn the Facts)
- Educate adult leaders, such as parents, teachers, policy makers, and doctors, how to become positive exemplars of healthy habits for the youth
- Empower people to eat healthier portions, become active at least one hour a day, and to avoid sugary drinks
- Empower consumers to actively read nutrition labels
- Teach people the “3 Ps” which are plan, purchase, and prepare food that is on a budget (Eat Healthy)
Obama’s objectives effectively work in harmony with the first question in the planning matrix: What do we need to do to meet the challenge or overcome the problem (Wilson)? The problem is obesity and the objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. They are specific because they target adult leaders in the community such as parents, teachers, policy makers, doctors, and everyone who buys food. The objectives could be more specific, more easily measured, and more time-bound by determining a healthy end goal that is number driven with a clear timeline. The end goal, as it stands, is simply to “solve obesity in a generation” (Learn the Facts) but it would better serve the public if the objective was to lower the percentage of Americans who are overweight by 15 percent by 2016. The objectives are achievable because by educating people on the health risks associated with obesity and potential solutions, people will have the knowledge to be responsible. Obama said it best when she explained why her Let’s Move Campaign is achievable and realistic during a USA Today interview:
We don’t have to be 100 percent perfect. My kids eat dessert. My kids
watch TV… I love burgers and fries, and I don’t want to live a life where
I can never have them again… The beauty is we don’t need to be 100
percent of the way there. If we get 20 percent of the way there, we will
change the health status of our kids for a generation (Hellmich).
As long as we are striving to become better and healthier, we are growing and actually becoming better as a result. And by becoming better and healthier, Americans are encompassing the body of the American Dream and helping with the solution to the obesity epidemic.
- Parents (as leaders and consumers)
- Can be from any nationality and are usually between the ages of 24-45
- Society’s definition of parents allows for broad ranges in gender, marital status, parenting styles, and other categories so the need for tactfulness is important so a particular group is not offended
- Utah County is primarily Latter-Day Saint (88 percent of residents) and therefore most homes have two parents, one male and one female, who usually have many children with little time on their hands
- The opinion leaders of the home because they make the money for the family and decide which groceries to buy (as consumers)
- Interested in their family, saving money and time, health, and fostering good habits for their posterity
- The current relationship between parents/ consumers and healthy habits is disconnected for the most part because parents need easily accessible information
- When parents are educated, they can educated the youth in their care
- Key opinion leaders are: The First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Utah County), Michelle Obama, Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, and Dr. Oz
Parents are important people to spread the message of healthy habits with because they influence their kids. I feel that it’s important to reach out to parents using certain channels that will be discussed in the messages and strategies/ tactics portion.
- Community leaders, doctors, and elected officials
- Usually 40-70 years old, white, and male
- Utah County is primarily Latter-Day Saint and thus the community leaders, doctors, and elected officials are mainly connected to the church
- Interests include making money, good public image, and health
- The church is connected to healthy habits because the Word of Wisdom decree that encourages members to be healthy; doctors’ jobs are to promote health; elected officials encourage people to vote for them and want people to believe they have the public’s best interest at heart
- Leaders promote the need to become educated and can encourage the public to take heed
- Influentials include: The First Presidency, family doctors, Dr. Oz, and President Barack Obama
It’s important to spread the message of healthy habits with community leaders, whom I would consider to be youth counselors, program coordinators, and church authorities, and with doctors and elected officials because they can use their influence to educate the public in their respective areas.
- Teachers and school personnel
- Many are over-worked and under-paid
- Usually 28-50 years old; can be any race or gender
- Usually have very small school budgets that must be complied with
- Motivated by lesson plans are easy to produce and execute that are cost effective
- The relationship with public school staff and healthy habits is better than most because schools teach health classes and serve food that is regulated by the FDA
- Key opinion leaders include: Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama, principals, school board
- School staff can persuade children to eat properly by eliminating sugary snacks and by promoting exercise during gym and at recess
Teachers and school staff monitor exercise time for kids and have the opportunity to empower kids to move. Kids are at school about seven hours a day and are greatly influenced by school.
- Interested in whatever their parents or peers tell them is cool and fun
- Start understanding around age 5 and are considered youth until age 17
- Motivated by friendships, popularity, easy accessibility, and fun
- The relationship of youth and healthy habits is nearly nonexistent; youth watch tv and don’t exercise much unless prompted or forced to do so
- Key influentials include: popular celebrities like Britney Spears or Miley Cyrus, Michelle Obama, their parents, teachers, doctors
Kids have the final say in what they do or eat so it’s important to create messages just for them.
Obama did an amazing job in terms of answering the second question from the planning matrix: Who do we need to reach and motivate to accomplish [our goals] (Wilson)? She listed her main key publics on her web page and added tips for each public (5 Simple Steps to Success). The only way to enhance her method is to distribute the information more effectively for each specific public.
Obama created a web page for each public with five steps for healthier living. “Five Simple Steps for Parents” lists 1. Keeping fruit readily available for quick snacks 2. Taking a family walk after dinner 3. Planning meals in advance and getting the children to help with preparation 4. Turning the tv off during meal time and focusing on the family 5. Meeting with the school principal and helping to coordinate a school health team (5 Simple Steps to Success). Something I would change would be step number five because parents usually are really busy and the idea of signing up to manage a food council is daunting. A less daunting task would be to encourage an hour of play a day, even if it’s simply putting on dance music and allowing the kids to jump around inside after school.
I also think that she should use the influence of family doctors more. Her tips for doctors are 1. Join Let’s Move 2. Measure everyone’s body mass index 3. Advocate breast feeding 4. Write prescriptions for parents that encourage them to make activity a priority 5. Lead in the community (5 Simple Steps to Success). Having the occasional doctor write the occasional prescription for parents, who may or may not heed the advice, is not very effective. I propose that Obama require doctors to give magnets with health tips to families. I also think that doctors should have posters up with health tips in every hallway and room.
Obama’s messages for schools are 1. Create a health council 2. Join the Let’s Move school challenge 3. Set good examples 4. Incorporate healthy living into the school curriculum 5. Plant a garden with the youth (5 Simple Steps to Success). With doctors and school leaders, Obama has requested the publics to become intertwined with her campaign (Shaw). It seems as if Obama is using her project of promoting healthy lifestyles to push her hidden agenda of Vote Obama into public spotlight. If I were to run this campaign, I would make the hidden agendas less blatant by not always using messages from the Obamas to advocate health. If each state were to have its own health challenge, I think that would be more fitting. It seems that if every school was participating in the Obama’s Let’s Move school challenge, then the youth would learn more about party politics than health education.
Kids are this nation’s future and Obama believes that by sharing her messages with them, then the world will be better for it. She advocates 1. Daily exercise 2. Trying fruits and veggies 3. Drinking water 4. Jumping around on tv commercial breaks 5. Helping make dinner (5 Simple Steps to Success). I think that these messages for children are spot on. I love that she makes the messages age-specific and completely realistic. I would also add upbeat songs on her web page for children to dance to on their tv commercial breaks.
I believe that Obama’s messages are mostly right on target and she does a decent job of answering the third question from the planning matrix: What messages do we need to send [the key publics] to obtain their cooperation (Wilson)? Her plan of sending tips for each leader is exactly what I would do as well. She just needs to adjust her methods of delivering the messages.
The strategies to send the Let’s Move messages to parents, community leaders, policy makers, doctors, and teachers included a White House press release urging adults to work together toward healthy living (Office of the First Lady), government-funded web pages with meal plans and tips, and announcements from the president of the United States on health (Let’s Move). Obama utilized her power via the internet, tv, and the president to get her messages across. She also created laws and federal acts to motivate action.
I feel like using the president to motivate people to become healthier isn’t ethical. There are many families who are uncomfortable with the Obamas’ politics all ready, and with the Obamas using tactics to motivate their kids, regardless of the message, some parents are up in arms. To get Obama’s messages across, she should utilize other, less controversial tactics such as humorous youtube videos promoting health without the president instead of new laws.
The strategies to motivate children to become healthier included a humorous children’s focus group with Will Ferrell that is famous on youtube, commercials on Nickelodeon with catchy songs, and an interactive web page with meal and exercise ideas (Let’s Move). Obama utilized the internet, children’s tv programming, and humorous stories to get her messages across.
I feel like her messages were better received when she stopped attempting to force others to participate in her project. When Obama provides helpful education instead of creating laws that demand attention, people appreciate her efforts and seem to take heed to her encouragement. I would suggest more celebrity involvement, aside from political leaders, and catchy songs to promote healthy lifestyles. I would also suggest removing herself as the main face of the campaign because that endorsement sends a message to everyone: Vote Obama.
Many people use social media and according to LetsMove.org, there are active Twitter and Facebook sites to promote the Let’s Move Campaign. However, the sites are rarely updated by the project leaders itself and the majority of posts are from regular people using the hashtag #LetsMove in rebellion. I know that if Obama were to plug the agenda of healthy lifestyles on Twitter and Facebook more frequently, she would have a huge following. I would recommend that the Let’s Move Campaign gets a new face to introduce the redesign launch of the social media aspect of the Let’s Move Campaign.
If the Let’s Move Campaign were to follow my advice, I feel that the fourth question from the planning matrix would be solved: How do we most effectively send those messages so the public chooses to perceive them and act upon them (Wilson)? We all know that people of all ages love the internet. If the campaign wants to thrive, they will utilize resources that don’t upset their key publics.
If the Let’s Move Campaign were to launch their redesign using the new objectives, messages, and strategies that I created in this case analysis, along with their original key publics and plans, I feel that America would become a healthier nation. The world in which daily breaks are a necessity to schools would be nothing more than the daydream of a child.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Overweight and Obesity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/basics.html
Hellmich, Nanci, & Hall, Mimi. (2010, Feb. 9). Michelle Obama Aims to End Child Obesity in a Generation. USA Today. Retrieved from http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/weightloss/2010-02-09-1Afirstlady09_CV_N.htm
Obama, Michelle. (2013). Eat Healthy. Retrieved from http://www.letsmove.gov/eat-healthy
Obama, Michelle. (2011). Learn the Facts. Retrieved from http://www.letsmove.gov/ learn-facts/epidemic-childhood-obesity
Obama, Michelle. (2014). Let’s Move. Retrieved from http://www.letsmove.gov/
Obama, Michelle. (2010). Getting Started: What is Obesity?. Retrieved from http://www.letsmove.gov/obesity
Obama, Michelle. (2014). 5 Simple Steps to Success. Retrieved from http://www.letsmove.gov/parents
Office of the First Lady. (2010). First Lady Michelle Obama Launches Let’s Move: America’s Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids (White House press release). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Shaw, Gina, & Chang, Louise. (2014). Michelle Obama Takes on Childhood Obesity. WebMD, Health and Parenting. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/michelle-obama-intervew
Stolberg, Sheryl Gay. (2010, Feb. 9). Childhood Obesity Battle is Taken Up by First Lady. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/10/health/nutrition/10obesity.html
Wilson, Laurie J., & Ogden, Joseph D. (2008). A Matrix Approach to Public Relations and Marketing (3rd ed.). United States: University Press, Brigham Young University.