Child Obesity, Race Relations Get Listener Reaction

Tell Me More host Michel Martin and Producer Lee Hill, the program's "digital media guy," comb through listener feedback and offer important news updates to recent conversations heard on the program. Hear reaction to a recent conversations about childhood obesity and first lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move initiative. Also, hear a critical response to a Tell Me More guest's description of race relations in Mississippi.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now it's time for Backtalk, where we lift the curtain on the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get to hear from you, our listeners. The program's digital media guy, Lee Hill, is here with me, as usual.

Hey, Lee. What are people saying this week?

LEE HILL: Hey, Michel. Well, one of the topics that really got folks talking this week was our conversation about offering healthy eating options in the nation's schools. We've talked a lot on this program about the White House initiative Let's Move. That's a project started by Michelle Obama aimed at fighting child obesity. Here's a clip from this week's discussion about Let's Move with Margo Wootan. She's director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Ms. MARGO WOOTAN (Director, Nutrition Policy, Center for Science in the Public Interest): You know what's brilliant about the first lady's approach is not only does she, you know, provide a good role model as a mother and she talks about how this is tough for us in our individual lives, but she also recognizes that this is a societal problem. It's not enough to just wag your finger at moms and say: Feed your kids better. We also have to have healthy foods in schools, because that's where our kids are eating a third to a half of their calories.

HILL: Now, Michel, that was one of actually two TELL ME MORE conversations Tuesday on this subject which listener Gordon found lacking. He writes: Where's personal responsibility and personal accountability? Why aren't children being taught that they and only they are their body's keepers? Outlawing certain foods in the schools is a short-term easy way out. And when they grow up, are we then going to ban the same kids, who are now adults, from the junk food section of the supermarket? We're encouraging the wrong type of behaviors, and outlawing certain foods is not going to solve that problem.

MARTIN: Thank you, Gordon. But I do want to point out that the second conversation that we had in that segment featured innovative ways to try to get kids to take more responsibility for better eating habits. And one of the things they talked about was using, say, hip-hop songs and rap songs to teach better habits. But thank you, Gordon.

Lee, in our weekly feature highlighting a story in The Washington Post magazine, we talked about the interesting role of race and football and bringing people together at Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi at Oxford. Listeners heard from writer Bill Thomas, who traveled to Ole Miss and made some comparative observations about race relations in Oxford, Mississippi and Washington, D.C. Here's what he had to say.

Mr. BILL THOMAS (Writer): I was really surprised by the nature of race relations in Mississippi. I live just outside of Washington, D.C., and there's a mayoral race going on right now in Washington, and it's all about race. You don't see any of that in Mississippi. People are friendly. You see blacks and whites socializing together in a way you don't here in Washington at all. It really, really was stunning to me.

MARTIN: Now, we heard from quite a few Mississippians after that conversation, and some took issue with that portrayal by Bill Thomas. Here's a note we received from Jay James from Oxford. He writes: Thomas, like many people, seems to understand people in very superficial terms. Just because we see African-Americans and whites occupying the same social spaces, such as football games, does not mean that all is well. I have found that so-called Southern hospitality is a performance that distracts from the rampant hypocrisy that is at the heart of Mississippi. Thank you, Jay James.

Thank you, Lee.

HILL: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: And, remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. Please remember to leave your name. You can also log onto our Web site. Go to npr.org, click on Programs, then on TELL ME MORE and blog it out.

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