KANSAS CITY, Mo. —First lady Michelle Obama told the NAACP Convention meeting in Kansas City on Monday that the time had come for dramatic changes to the diets of African-Americans and young people across the country.
Obama, pushing her "Let's Move" initiative designed to attack childhood obesity, said the scourge of overeating threatens the nation's future.
One in every three children in this country is overweight or obese, Obama said.
"We need to take this issue seriously," she said — as seriously as the need for better schools, a halt to gun violence and the threat of AIDS.
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The nation is confronting what she called a "perfect storm" of "bad habits and unhealthy decisions" that have led to skyrocketing rates of diabetes and other weight-related conditions.
The economic gains that the NAACP and other groups have fought for over the decades will be lost if today's young people grow into adults who lack the energy to be good performers on the job, she said.
"It is going to take all of us working together to lead healthier lives right from the beginning," Obama said.
Obama spoke four days after her husband was in town to promote green jobs and raise money for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Robin Carnahan.
She took particular aim at what she called "food deserts" or areas in major cities that are bereft of major supermarkets. The result is that too many inner-city residents pay higher prices for basic grocery items at convenience stores.
"We've got to eliminate food deserts within this country within seven years," she said.
To that end, she advocates a bill that will provide $400 million a year in seed funding to attract major supermarkets to poor neighborhoods.
But she said government can only do so much and that the responsibility for healthier eating rests with the nation's moms and dads.
"Dessert," she said, "is not a right."