You wouldn’t think Michelle Obama, a leading anti-obesity spokeswoman, would go on Paula Deen’s show, considering the celebrity chef is famed for her southern fried cooking. And you certainly wouldn’t expect what Deen told the Washington Examiner after the fact:
"Well, I did a show with Michelle and I just loved being with her," Deen told Yeas & Nays. "She probably ate more than any other guest I've ever had on the show —she kept eating even during commercials.
But is splurging a bad thing? Hardly. Even a national campaigner for anti-obesity initiatives can enjoy the occasional caloric splurge, even Gooey Butter Cake. In fact, the First Lady hasn’t packed on the pounds as some food nannies might predict. As she chases the mass-jumping jacks record, perhaps Mrs. Obama is on to the not-so-secret fact that it’s all a matter of simple calorie balancing?
Her husband seems to be on to the secret too. At a recent appearance at a Florida pub, President Obama was photographed enjoying a beer in the presence of (quelle horreur) fried bar snacks. The President also enjoys his hamburgers, and it doesn’t seem to hurt his figure either.
The lesson of the First Couple’s eating habits is not that people can eat whatever they want with no consequences. Indeed, we suspect that the Obamas compensate for their tastes with an exercise regimen. But that just reaffirms the truth that if calories out is less than calories in, weight is gained, and if not, it isn’t. There is no other “magic formula.” There is no list of “bad foods” that automatically result in obesity.
We hope that Michelle and Barack Obama take the lessons of their own health into consideration when designing their anti-obesity programs. They shouldn’t let diet-only or good food/bad food hype drive the national health conversation when promoting exercise and restoring recess and physical education to schools will make any program more successful (and healthful).