How Conservative Media's Attacks On Michelle Obama's Anti-Obesity Efforts May Lead To A Government Shutdown

Republican lawmakers reportedly plan to demand the suspension of first lady Michelle Obama's school lunch program in order to avoid a government shutdown, an ultimatum that follows follows a sustained conservative media campaign against her anti-obesity efforts. 

According to The New York Times, congressional Republicans plan  “to scale back Michelle Obama's school-lunch nutrition mandates and curtail some clean water regulations in a $1 trillion spending bill that would avert” a government shutdown on December 11. Republicans have staked their ground against a program the Times describes as an attempt to “improve school nutrition by reducing the sodium content and increasing the percentage of whole grains in school lunches.”

While Pew polling has found that a majority of Americans agree that “the government should play a significant role in reducing obesity among children,”  Michelle Obama's efforts to combat childhood obesity have been met with consistent opposition from conservatives, including right-wing media. Here are some of the worst attacks on the first lady's school nutrition initiative: 

Healthy School Lunches Are Government Fiat

  • Fox reported that school nutrition standards mean “the lunch lady is now a health czar.”
  • Fox host Sean Hannity predicted that the healthy school lunch program will lead to a nanny state, asking if “every American family need[ed] a dietitian appointed by the government.”  
  • Rush Limbaugh claimed government will monitor citizens as part of the “obesity problem.”  
  • Fox's John Stossel argued that nutrition standards will allow the government to “dictate” who citizens are allowed to marry. 
  • The Daily Signal, an online publication of the Heritage Foundation, attacked Obama's initiative as an attempt to “co-parent to your children” and described the first lady as “the self-appointed First Parent of the United States.”  

Michelle Obama Is Too Fat To Lead Nutrition Efforts 

  • Fox News host Keith Ablow said the first lady “needs to drop a few”  and accused her of “hypocrisy” because she “has not been consistently a picture of fitness.”
  • Rush Limbaugh attacked  “Michelle, my butt” for “talking about nutrition.”
  • Conservative site Breitbart.com published a cartoon depicting the first lady as overweight. 

Nutrition Standards Caused “Plate Waste” And Hunger 

  • Conservative media hyped a survey from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the implementation of new standards to argue that “kids can't be healthy if they aren't hunger-free.”  
  • Fox's Steve Doocy described new nutrition standards as “the food police”  to claim that “kids are ending up hungry.”  
  • Fox's Sandra Smith blasted the “incredibly expensive” standards as the reason why “school nutritionists are having a very hard time, first, keeping the food on the plate and into the kids' mouth. They're throwing it away. So you've got the plate waste that everybody's talking about.”
  • Conservative website Twitchy.com aggregated a list of tweets from what they described as a social media campaign from “ticked-off kids” who “blame[d] Michelle Obama for pitiful school lunches.” Twitchy claimed “Many students fled the school lunch lines after Michelle Obama's anti-obesity campaign brought misery (and miniature portions) to lunchrooms around the country.”  

Michelle Obama's Efforts Lead To Higher Pedestrian Deaths 

  • Conservative media hyped an article by the Washington Examiner that baselessly claimed that “First lady Michelle Obama's campaign to get people to exercise outdoors might be a factor in an increase in the number of pedestrian deaths” in 2010, a claim the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) called a “total sham.”