First Lady makes Iowa her first stop on 'Let's Move' campaign


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DES MOINES — Local, state, and national leaders are pushing students to lead healthier lifestyles. But one local nutritionist said the push to make kids healthier should come more from home and not just from politicians.

First lady Michelle Obama was in Des Moines on Thursday to promote her "Let's Move" campaign. She was joined by Gov. Terry Branstad and a handful of high-profile athletes. Iowa was the first stop in Obama's three-day tour, which includes stops in Arkansas, Texas, and Florida.

Jason Bradley, a nutrionist who works in Iowa City, urged parents and educators to take a more active role in instilling good diet and exercise practices in their children.

"What it comes down to is that it's our responsibility as teachers and adults to help our children to make good choices, and they'll help their peers," he said. "But a government-sponsored initiative is a really great start."

During her stop Thursday, Obama applauded Branstad for his push to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation. Dubbed the Healthiest State Initiative, the program encourages Iowans to eat better and exercise more. The 2010 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index ranked Iowa as the 19th healthiest state in the country.


"We could have gone anywhere [first], but there is a reason we wanted to come here to Iowa to be with all of you," Obama said. "And that's because I am so proud of what you all are doing to make Iowa the healthiest state in this country by 2016."

Branstad, a Republican, introduced her at the event.

"Our goal has been very clear: to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation," he said. "It has inspired Iowans young and old to come together and make wellness a priority. We're all in this together."

Obama said Iowa ought to serve as a model for the rest of the nation.

"We want every single state in this country to do exactly what Iowa is doing," she said.

Students from the Des Moines area attended Thursday's event and participated in short exercises led by various athletes, including ice-skating champ Michelle Kwan and Bob Harper, a trainer on NBC's "The Biggest Loser." The crowd also heard from Des Moines native and Olympic gold-medalist Shawn Johnson.

The Iowa Department of Education is promoting the healthiest state initiative in a different way.

Jason Glass, the director of the Education Department, said officials have asked the state Legislature to add physical education to the Iowa Core — the education department's academic expectations for students.

"There's no state-level expectations right now, and that's something we're working to address in this legislative session," Glass said.

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