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Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign celebrated its fourth anniversary with news about a significant drop in toddler obesity and a series of high-profile appearances, including a late-night television skit about healthy lifestyle choices that went viral.
Last week, the first lady promoted healthy eating habits in a “Tonight Show” skit with host Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrell. She then teamed up with Ferrell again in a hilarious YouTube video, a public service announcement that featured a mock focus group with young children.
Obama said her appearance on Fallon's show demonstrated how easy it can be for parents to help slip exercise into their children’s lives.
“Sometimes, if you get up and dance and you're silly, maybe your kids get up and dance and they're silly and they let the guard down,” she told TODAY's Jenna Bush Hager. “You do that for 30 minutes and before you know it, you've exercised and nobody's the wiser.”
“So I figure if the first lady can laugh at herself and be silly, maybe some more moms and dads will get up and do the same thing with their kids.”
Obama said her two teen daughters responded well to her appearance on Fallon’s show.
“You know, fortunately they weren't too horrified,” she said. “I think that they're used to me doing really silly things to get people engaged and laughing.”
Obama last promoted her Let's Move! campaign in a skit with Fallon on his previous late-night show, when the two showed off "the evolution of mom dancing." It was another example of how getting active can be both fun and funny for the entire family.
“We're really just changing the entire arc of their day and creating healthy environments for kids from morning ‘till night,” the first lady told Bush Hager. “And I think with those small changes, we're starting to make some progress.”
Bush Hager traveled with Obama as the first lady visited elementary schools and numerous other campaign stops. The two then spoke about TODAY’s week-long “Love Your Selfie” series that examines body image. The first lady said when it comes to self image, she and her daughters never talk about numbers.
“We don’t talk about weight. We don't talk about physical appearance. We talk about health. We talk about what's on the inside,” she told Bush Hager. “We spend so much more time talking to our girls about being kind and treating others well, and being passionate and respectful.”
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Obama also she and the president try to lead by example for their daughters when it comes to staying healthy.
“We try to model the behavior that we talk about all the time,” she said. “I want my girls to grow up to be strong, healthy, young women who aren't afraid to exercise. They see it as fun.”
But as someone under the microscope who is always examined for her physical appearance — whether for her bangs or biceps — she said that scrutiny is part of the job, as well as current culture.
“It's always there. I'm not the first one to go through it. Your mom, you know, it was the same thing for her. I still know what dresses she wore for state dinners,” Obama said about Bush Hager's mother, former first lady Laura Bush. “My philosophy has been, okay, if you're looking at me for whatever reason, let me make sure I'm standing in front of something really important so while you're seeing my shoes, you may also see these kids jumping around in this preschool. So as long as the outcome is substantive, I'm okay with the means to the end.”
Earlier this week, the Center for Disease Control announced that the obesity rate for young children had dropped 43 percent. But with one third of all teens and kids still overweight, Obama said her campaign still has a lot of work to encourage kids to make smarter choices about what they eat and how much they exercise.
“We need to keep doing what we're doing,” she said. “It's things like changing how much kids move, adding more fruits and vegetables into their diet. But we know that we are nowhere near solving this problem once and for all.”
But the first lady she was “thrilled” about this week’s announcement by the Food and Drug Administration about a proposed revamping of food labels to make them easier to read and more realistic. The first lady’s office worked closely with the FDA on what the new labels would look like.
“Ease of choices is really what Let’s Move! has been about,” she said.