First Lady praises Mississippi's progress in fighting childhood - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

First Lady praises Mississippi's progress in fighting childhood obesity

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CLINTON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

First Lady Michelle Obama praised schools and leaders across Mississippi for their success in fighting childhood obesity. Obama said she chose to stop in Mississippi because what's happening in the state "is really what Let's Move! is all about."

The First Lady made her comments at an afternoon program at Clinton's Northside and Eastside elementary schools.

When she visited the state three years ago, Mississippi had been declared the most obese state in America, Obama said. Some people thought obesity in the state was an impossible problem.

"Fortunately, all of you here in this room had a different view on things," Obama said.

Starting under the leadership of former Gov. Haley Barbour, changes were implemented across the state.

The state Board of Education set new standards for food and drinks in school vending machines, she said.

"They replaced their fryers with steamers. Hallelujah," said the First Lady.

Earlier Wednesday, Clinton's Northside and Eastside elementary schools were busy preparing for the First Lady's return to the Magnolia State.

In 2010, Obama took a trip to Jackson's Pecan Park Elementary School where she congratulated students and staff on working healthier nutrition habits into the school.

Obama and child nutrition advocate Rachael Ray visited the Clinton schools to celebrate the third year of the Let's Move! initiative. It's a nationwide campaign to get healthier and more affordable foods into schools and neighborhoods and provide students with a variety of ways to stay physically fit.

"To have them right here in our backyard in the state of Mississippi, it's a big honor for us," said Patrick House, the winner of Season 10 of "The Biggest Loser."

Through House's "Lean on Me," program he's reached over 15,000 students, teaching the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

"We use a lot of the same materials and so it's going to be really really fun to be able to interact and learn more," House said. "She's really made a difference all over the country and that's what I'm looking to do too."

Dr. Timothy Quinn said Mississippi's childhood obesity rate is an epidemic, but he's optimistic that the First Lady's visit will continue to help get the Magnolia State's children on the right path.

"I think that this is going to help kick start so that we can strive to be a healthier state," said Dr. Quinn.

The First Lady will travel to Chicago and Springfield, MO to continue the Let's Move! celebration.

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