Michelle Obama’s “Success” In Reducing Childhood Obesity Never Happened

If you were reading me in January, you might remember how shocked I was by a claim (one of many false claims) that President Barack Obama made in his state of the union speech. I wrote, “If The President Can Credit Michelle Obama With Lowering Childhood Obesity, Then He can Get Away With Anything.”

I know there were much more dangerous and important things said in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, but one relatively minor claim completely surprised and shocked me.


As usual, our first lady sets a good example. Michelle’s — (applause) — well. (Chuckles.) (Cheers, applause.) Yeah. Michelle’s Let’s Move! partnership with schools, businesses, local leaders has helped bring down childhood obesity rates for the first time in thirty years, and that’s an achievement — (applause) — that will improve lives and reduce health care costs for decades to come.

No, I’m not shocked by his threat (promise) to use executive power. I’m amazed that, to prove to us that the executive branch could bring help to the nation, he made up such a bizarre and unbelievable claim. Michelle Obama and her partners helped bring down childhood obesity rates?

I thought it was perfectly obvious that Michelle Obama’s program could not possibly have lowered obesity. Childhood obesity is far too prevalent and growing to think it can be fixed in that way.

But now I have another reason. I know Michelle Obama does not deserve credit for lowering childhood obesity because childhood obesity was never reduced!

From the National Review blog:

In late February, a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that obesity rates among children aged 2 to 5 had declined by 40 to 43 percent in the past eight years, a dramatic and encouraging finding. But researchers are now saying that the good news may have been a statistical mistake.

Experts believe the finding may have been in error because other studies have found no such decline in obesity rates within that age group.


The CDC’s study relied on a set of government-collected data that’s considered highly reliable, but wasn’t ideal for this comparison: The study looked at over 9,000 Americans, but just 871 were between 2 and 5, and just a small proportion of them are obese. The margin of error, in fact, was wide enough that it’s statistically possible there was no decrease at all.

So the big applause and the loud cheers for Michelle Obama at the State of the Union address was a misfire. The thirty-year trend continues unabated.

Of course, I think this is good news. It means the government has not succeeded in causing more Hispanic children to suffer from malnutrition.