Dear Mrs. Obama: We Can’t Fight Obesity Without Going Free-Range

Hi Readers: Here’s an almost perfect opinion piece by Dan Haley in Sunday’s Denver Post about how Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” program is a great idea — get kids outside, exercising more — but it’ll never work. At least, not until we start a Free-Range Revolution (not that he calls it that):

…first we need a public service campaign to tell parents it’s OK for their kids to play outside. I know parents who constantly wring their hands over how it’s no longer safe for kids to play outdoors. But crimes against children have been declining since at least 1993, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Some 800,000 kids are reported “missing” each year, but only about 100 of those cases can be classified as “stereotypical kidnappings.” The rest typically are runaways and custody issues.

We should still tell our kids to be wary of strangers, to be smart about where they go and who they hang out with. But I’d venture to guess it’s no less safe outside now than it was in the 1970s. We’ve been scared indoors by a few horrifying, high- profile killings that play out on 24-hour news channels and relentless “stranger danger” campaigns.

Unfortunately,then Haley goes on to monger a little fear of his own, saying that when kids are inside they are sitting ducks for internet predators. (For more on how this danger has been exaggerated, please see my piece in The Daily Beast.)

But his main point is well taken. To say,  “Play like we did!” while also saying, “But you’ll probably get abducted if you do, and even if you aren’t, you should probably spend more time inside doing homework and test prep anyway, or you’ll never get into a good college, so your future is grim,” is enough to drive any kid to drink…a sugary soda or two. — Lenore