REMARKS BY THE FIRST LADY AT DISNEY PRESS CONFERENCE
11:13 A.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, everyone. Good morning. Oh my goodness. I am so thrilled to be with all of you today, and I want to start by thanking Bob for that very kind introduction and for his tremendous leadership at Disney.
I’d also like to thank Leslie for all of her hard work in this effort. Also, everyone from the Newseum for hosting us today, and also to all of the parents and advocates who are here today who have been working so hard for so many years on these issues. And finally, I want to thank everyone at Disney for making this day possible.
This new initiative is truly a game changer for the health of our children. See, for years people told us that no matter what we did to get our kids to eat well and exercise, we would never solve our childhood obesity crisis until companies changed the way they sell food to our children. And we all know the conventional wisdom about that. We’ve heard all the cynics who say that we simply can’t change the market, or that concerned parents are no match for corporate bottom lines, or that companies will never change their business model for the good of our kids.
But truly, today, Disney has turned that conventional wisdom on its head. This is a major American company, a global brand that is literally changing the way it does business so that our kids can lead healthier lives. With this new initiative, Disney is doing what no major media company has ever done before in the United States. And what I hope every company will do going forward when it comes to the ads they show and the food they sell they’re asking themselves one simple question: Is this good for our kids?
And make no mistake about it — this is huge. That’s why I’m here. It’s huge. Just think about it. Just a few years ago if you had told me or any other mom or dad in America that our kids wouldn’t see a single ad for junk food while they watched their favorite cartoons on a major TV network, we wouldn’t have believed you because parents know better than anyone else just how effective and pervasive those advertisements have become — Bob mentioned it.
Our kids see an estimated $1.6 billion a year worth of food and beverage marketing, and many of those ads are for foods that are high in calories and sugar but low in nutrition. So our kids are constantly bombarded with sophisticated messages designed to sell them foods that simply aren’t good for them. And let me tell you, we know it works, right?
As parents, we know that whatever is on TV is what our kids are going to want. I remember, as Bob has discussed, going to the grocery store with the kids, and the minute you walk down the aisle the kids are singing some jingle, or they’re pulling on your leg begging you, pleading you for whatever they saw on TV. And as a mom, I know how that makes it even harder for us to keep our kids healthy.
So many parents are working so hard to serve their kids a balanced diet. We’re preparing those nutritious meals and snacks, and we’re doing our best to teach our kids healthy habits. But when the kids turn on the TV to watch their favorite shows and — all that hard work is undermined whenever there is a commercial break. I mean, it’s a constant battle, and it’s a tough one. And so many parents are left feeling like the deck is stacked against them.
And, truly, that’s really what today is all about. In fact, that’s what our entire Let’s Move initiative is about. It’s about empowering parents, because we know that government doesn’t have all the answers and there’s no one-size solution to this problem. This is about what all of us can do as moms and dads, as CEOs and school superintendents, as mayors and doctors, and, yes, even Mickey Mouse. It’s about all of us doing what we can with the tools we have to help parents make healthier choices for their kids.
And that’s why I am so thrilled about today’s announcements. I am thrilled that Disney is stepping forward in such a big way to stand alongside America’s parents. I am thrilled that they’re raising their nutrition standards and introducing the Mickey Check and making it easier for moms and dads to make those decisions.
And I’m thrilled that over the next couple of years, when our kids tune into their favorite shows on Disney channels or they log onto the Disney web site, they will no longer be bombarded with unhealthy messages during those commercial breaks. Instead, they will see ads for foods that we might actually want them to eat — ads that can reinforce healthy habits and teach kids very important lessons.
And as you heard from Bob and Leslie, Disney has been taking steps to help our kids lead healthier lives for many years. Their Magic of Healthy Living campaign is helping kids eat healthy, get active, and have fun while doing it. They’ve helped build playgrounds and community gardens in neighborhoods all across this country. And even earlier this year, they got me to do the platypus walk. (Laughter.) Yes, dancing with about 1,500 kids down in Disney World.
So we’re all willing to do our part. And leaders at Disney are doing all of this not just as parents and as grandparents who care about the health and well-being of their kids and the future of this nation, but, as Bob said, they’re also doing it as corporate leaders who care about the bottom line. And that’s a very important point to make.
They have listened to parents who are more and more concerned about what their kids are eating. They’ve seen the market shifting as folks are increasingly interested in buying healthier food, and they’ve seen the momentum building all across this country on behalf of our children’s health. And they’ve realized that what is good for our children can also be good business.
So I hope that businesses all across this country will understand this as well, and, even more importantly, I hope that parents will take notice when companies like Disney do the right thing for our kids. Because as parents, it isn’t enough to just ask for change. It’s not enough just to make the right choices for our kids. We also need to support those companies who are listening to us, because if we do that as parents and consumers, if we make a statement not just with our voices but also with our feet and with our wallets, then we will keep seeing the changes that we hope for. We will keep seeing more choices available for our kids.
We’re going to keep seeing more days like today, which is what we’re working for. And that is what is going to take us to the finish line and get us where we want to go on this issue. That’s what it’s going to take to ensure that our children can grow up healthy and reach their full potential.
And I say this all time — we know it won’t be easy, but everything that I have seen since we started Let’s Move gives me hope. Every day I am hearing from someone who wants to get involved — school districts revamping their menus; communities planting gardens; food companies reducing the sugar, salt and fat in their foods; nationwide chains building grocery stores in underserved communities; leaders from both parties in Congress coming together to fund healthy school lunches.
And more importantly, every day I am getting wonderful letters from kids who tell me about how they’re eating healthier — the same things that Bob is seeing in his research, I’m seeing it anecdotally. Kids telling me about how they’re getting more exercise and how they’re loving every minute of it. They want to be healthy. They’re excited about improving their lives. That is the change that all of us are making together. That’s why every day I am more hopeful. Every day I’m more confident than ever that we can get this done and we can give all of our kids the healthy futures they deserve.
So today, again, I want to once again thank Disney for taking this monumental step forward and setting the bar very high. And I look forward to standing with even more businesses and partners who support the health of America’s families in the months and years ahead. And I can’t wait to see the difference that it makes for our children and for our country.
So thank you all. Thank you, Bob. Congratulations and God bless. (Applause.)