CBS Provides White House Victory Lap Over Declining Childhood Obesity Rates

For the first time in a generation, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported improvements in obesity rates for low-income preschoolers in 19 states across. Following the small but rare improvement, CBS This Morning took to the airwaves on August 7 to give White House chef Sam Kass a victory lap on the CDC’s findings.

Appearing on Wednesday, Norah O’Donnell beamed about the exclusive interview that viewers will “see only on CBS This Morning.” O’Donnell began her interview with softball questions with Kass, clearly wanting to prop up First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign:

This has been a signature issue for Mrs. Obama the Let’s Move campaign which you’re involved in as a chef. What about the campaign do you think led to this drop in obesity rates?

Unfortunately for O’Donnell, the White House chef didn’t give her the answer she wanted, and failed to credit Mrs. Obama’s plan for the drop in obesity rates, saying that, “Well, I don't think there's any one cause that we can see to, you know, to give us this drop. It's a complex issue and we need complex solutions.”

Fill-in host Anthony Mason tried his best to follow up O’Donnell’s victory lap with the White House but failed when asking about the changes made to the Women Infant and Children (WIC) program which eliminated juice and replacing it with low-fat milk. Kass, was unable to convey the same joy that O’Donnell expressed, commenting that, “I don’t think you’re going to be able to see here's the one reason we're seeing the decline because there's a lot of reasons that we’re seeing the troubles that we had.”

On a side note, given that the Washington Post recently revealed that Sam Kass is currently dating MSNBC’s Alex Wagner, it will be interesting to see how CBS’s competitor handles the new CDC obesity data.

 

See relevant transcript below.


CBS

CBS This Morning

August 7, 2013

7:31 a.m. Eastern

NORAH O’DONNELL: And there's a new and positive development in America’s fight against childhood obesity. For the first time the CDC reports a modest drop in obesity for low-income preschoolers in 19 states. With us now from Washington Sam Kass, a White House advisor, chef and point man for Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign. He joins us for an interview you'll see only on CBS This Morning. Good morning, Sam.

SAM KASS: Good morning. How are you?

O’DONNELL: I'm great. I'm great. So what did you think when you heard this news from the CDC that these obesity rates are going down?

KASS: You know we were just thrilled and the first lady was absolutely overjoyed. We're really seeing the country united around our kids' health. And for the first time in decades we're really seeing a shift downward. And that is an unprecedented breakthrough and knows that our actions and all the efforts from around the country and with the First Lady are really making the difference. So we've got to a long way to go, but we're on the right track.

O’DONNELL: This has been a signature issue for Mrs. Obama the Let’s Move campaign which you’re involved in as a chef. What about the campaign do you think led to this drop in obesity rates?

KASS: Well, I don't think there's any one cause that we can see to, you know, to give us this drop. It's a complex issue and we need complex solutions but we know that early childhood is such an important component of making sure our kids are on the right path to a healthy life. And so the first lady launched "Let's Move" child care and that is working with over 10,000 childcare centers from across the country to get healthier snacks, better beverages, to make sure that kids aren’t getting too much screen time and that they're running around and that leadership from childcare providers from around the country I know is making a big difference but it's been a lot of efforts from leadership across the country that's going to lead to declines as broad as these.

ANTHONY MASON: Sam, the CDC says much of the credit is due to changes in the government's food plan like removing juice and adding low fat milk. Is there any real evidence that that 's making a difference?

KASS: I think we know that improving -- I think you’re referring to the WIC program. Improving the food that’s available to mothers and early childhood kids is absolutely critical to getting them to on to a healthy start. So I don’t think you’re going to be able to see here's the one reason we're seeing the decline because there's a lot of reasons that we’re seeing the troubles that we had, but we know that for the first time in over three decades since the beginning of this epidemic, we're seeing broad declines and it's not happening by mistake. It’s happening because people are stepping up from parents, teachers, doctors and community leaders to really make some changes and that's why we're seeing such good results.

O’DONNELL: Alright, Sam Kass, good to see you. Thank you.

KASS: Great to see you, thank you so much.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.