Fitness Proof Is in the Presidential Pudding

Phil Vettel, the Chicago Tribune’s food critic, notes a certain whiff of hypocrisy in First Lady Michelle Obama’s food-focused campaign to solve Americans’ weight woes. While she’s preaching about access to fresh veggies, her husband goes on the road and happily noshes on wings, burgers, and fries.

Vettel writes of the presidential palate:

I mean, the cheeseburger with fries at Peggy Sue's Cafe in Monroe City, Mo., in late April? Yikes. And then, a few days ago, a stop at Duff's for buffalo wings? Double yikes. Buffalo wings are so loaded with fat they make cheeseburger fans feel better about themselves.  

I realize that, as a man of the people, you have to dig into what the locals eat. When in Buffalo, N.Y., as you were this month, delivering a speech on the troublesome economy to a particularly hard-hit city, you're not going to be grabbing a steaming mound of quinoa at the local veggie restaurant. …

Mr. President, you're a gym rat, and from what I can tell, you're exercising away all those calories and then some.

And that’s the heart of the matter: President Obama is as fit as a fiddle, known for his dedicated gym routine six days a week. We’d argue that he makes a great advocate for the benefits of regular physical activity, but not such a perfect spokesman for a fanatically restricted diet that only MeMe Roth would love.

While activists are fighting to push treats off our tables, scores of studies have shown that Americans are most seriously lacking in the physical activity department. Only eight percent of elementary schools and six percent of middle and high schools require students to take phys ed. These are habits that have lifelong consequences: On a state-by-state basis, the leanest areas of the country are also the places with the most active people.

The link between inactivity and obesity is unambiguous. And President Obama is living proof that regular exercise compensates for cheeseburgers and the occasional DC visit to Ben’s Chili Bowl.

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