Michelle Obama Celebrates Newton’s Efforts to Reduce Childhood Obesity

Newton's mayor met with the First Lady Wednesday to discuss the city's participation in the Let's Move initiative.

Michelle Obama works with local schools to develop healthy snack programs as a part of the Let's Move! initiative. Photo via Let's Move Facebook.

Michelle Obama works with local schools to develop healthy snack programs to limit childhood obesity as a part of the Let’s Move! initiative. Photo via Let’s Move Facebook.

While you spent your afternoon at work on Wednesday, Newton Mayor Setti Warren was doing something a little bit more exciting: meeting with First Lady Michelle Obama to discuss childhood obesity, health, and wellness.

Michelle Obama hosted local elected officials from communities across the country that have addressed childhood obesity in important ways. Each official in attendance took part in the Let’s Move! Cities, Towns, and Counties (LMCTC) initiative that the First Lady founded last year. As a part of the LMCTC, local elected officials like Warren have made efforts to adopt sustainable strategies in their communities that improve access to healthy, affordable food and opportunities for physical activity.

A total of 330 cities, towns, and counties from 46 states and the District of Columbia have committed to the initiative’s goals to limit childhood obesity, but Newton’s Mayor Warren is one of approximately 40 local officials who attended yesterday’s events.

Last May, Newton began a wellness program that partnered with local businesses to reward residents for participating in wellness activities. Businesses like Whole Foods and Legal Seafoods now give Newton residents incentives and discounts for exercising and living in a healthy way, and Warren says that the program is one of the first of it’s kind, which is why he was invited to Wednesday’s events.

“I was very proud to be invited to the First Lady’s events,” Warren says. “She is visionary and she is so inspiring in the areas of health and wellness. Her passion to get leaders around the country to be innovative in terms of health is so important right now, both for our generation and future generations. It was just inspiring to be with her and to have a chance to talk to her.”

The First Lady first thanked Warren and other leaders for their forward-thinking health and wellness practices and for leading their citizens to healthier lifestyles. There was then a briefing on the newest research from areas of the country that are experiencing vast improvements in health and wellness, and later Warren sat in on a “best practices” session with other mayors.

“We had a chance to talk with one another about what we’re doing,” he says. “It was a fantastic day.”

Following Tuesday’s announcement from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which named Eastern Massachusetts as one of the regions in America that is best addressing the childhood obesity epidemic in real ways, it looks like our state has a lot to be proud of this week.