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President Obama's Diet - Healthy and Not So Healthy

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Until Michelle Obama writes a mega-selling diet book — be it “First Ladies Don’t Get Fat” or “The South Lawn Diet” — two questions loom: What do the Obamas eat at home, and how do they stay so thin?

No idle questions, these. Health care policy is dominating Capitol Hill at a time when a sports-loving president has set an example of fitness and a svelte first lady has revived the notion of the backyard vegetable garden. Yet the first couple often publicly enjoy hearty servings of not-so-healthful food — and allow their daughters to indulge, too. Little wonder that the blog Obama Foodorama, run by Eddie Gehman Kohan, has been overwhelmed with interest in the presidential meal plan. “People just don’t know how to eat — and don’t know what to eat in order not to be fat. They are looking to the Obamas like, ‘How did you do this?’” said Kohan. Is it possible that they use diet pills that give you energy? I hardly think so, as the first family seems to be pretty physically fit, even though Michelle Obama has received a few comments about her weight recently.

Nutrition experts, too, say Americans need a much better glimpse of what’s being dished up behind the gates of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. “We have no idea what their regular breakfasts, lunches and dinners are like,” said American Dietetic Association spokeswoman and D.C. nutritionist Katherine Tallmadge. “Burgers, that’s all I ever hear about. They go to burger joints because it shows they’re just like everybody else, but everybody else is overweight.”

That’s not exactly an exaggeration: Nearly two-thirds of all adults over age 20 are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What’s worse, American adults are less likely to perceive themselves as overweight than they were 10 years ago, even though obesity rates increased substantially during the same period, according to a new study by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and Florida State University. “People base their perception of themselves on what’s average for the people around them, and that average has increased over time,” said Reserve Bank economist Mary Burke. “There are more overweight people out there who no longer think they are overweight, and that’s cause for concern.”

If the Obamas have a diet secret, it is that they’ve achieved the elusive “balanced” lifestyle — a concept that has been preached for years by health secretaries, doctors and even the fast-food, candy and beverage industries.

The first couple fit in early-morning workout sessions before the day begins, and the president is known to play basketball. A vegetable garden has been planted on the White House grounds, where daughters Sasha and Malia play on their swing set and run about with the first dog, Bo.

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