Michelle Obama: Cooking at home has its advantages

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 14, 2014 at 6:04 pm •  Published: March 14, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — Next up for "Let's Move?" How about "Let's Cook."

Michelle Obama said Friday that a new focus of her anti-childhood obesity effort will be to help people cook more of their meals at home because they're healthier.

Addressing a health summit in Washington, the first lady said home-cooked meals have less fat, sodium, cholesterol and calories than meals prepared in restaurants — and save money, too.

She said too many people think they don't have the time or the skills to cook for themselves, but that plenty of meals can be pulled together in less than 30 minutes for cheaper than takeout.

Mrs. Obama began focusing on the nation's childhood obesity problem as soon as she got to the White House in 2009. She pledged Friday to stick with the issue long after she's gone.

"We cannot walk away from this issue until obesity rates drop for children of every age and every background," she said. "We cannot walk away until every child in this country has a shot at a healthy life. And that's why I'm in this thing for the long haul, and I mean long after I leave the White House, because I believe in finishing what I start."

Mrs. Obama praised recent federal statistics showing a sharp decline in obesity rates among children ages 2 to 5 as a small, though important, achievement, but still not enough evidence to declare the problem solved. She urged everyone to keep working on solutions, especially among older kids.

"Now is not the time to take our foot off the gas and congratulate ourselves on a job well done," Mrs. Obama said. "Just the opposite. Now is the time to fight even harder, because we now know it is possible to make a difference on this issue. We know that our strategies are beginning to work."

Her strategy largely has been to cajole food and beverage makers, retailers, restaurants and others to make healthier products. Federal legislation and regulations are leading to changes in school breakfast and lunch programs, and are expected to bring an updated "Nutrition Facts" label to thousands of packaged products before the end of the decade.