US First Lady Michelle Obama has been urged to do more to encourage the food industry to tackle child obesity after she launched a healthy-eating drive in the US yesterday (9 February).

Consumer watchdog The Center for Science in the Public Interest called on Mrs Obama to support political moves to prevent the selling of junk food in US schools.

CSPI nutrition policy director Margo Wootan said the First Lady should pressure food and drinks companies to support efforts to update the “disco-era national standards” for school vending machines and “get junk food and all sugary beverages out of schools once and for all”.

“For far too long, the nation’s response to childhood obesity has been underwhelming, considering obesity’s massive impact on the nation’s physical and fiscal health. The First Lady has the clout and visibility to change that and mobilise the nation’s resources to address the problem,” Wootan said.

Mrs Obama yesterday launched ‘Let’s Move’, a drive designed to cut obesity levels among children in the country. The campaign has been drawn up in a bid to encourage US families to eat healthily and exercise more.

The push has been launched in tandem with The Partnership for a Healthier America, an independent NGO set up to “solve the child obesity challenge”.

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Wootan added the First Lady could work with Congress to fund the full US$1bn per year recommended in the President’s budget for school nutrition and urge politicians to move the bill quickly, so new reforms can be in place for the next school year.