Jeanne Firth


The ‘obesity epidemic’ is widely accepted as a major public health threat in the United States. This paper provides a critical examination of the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity’s action plan that is foundational to First Lady Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move!’ campaign. The report reveals ideological anxieties about race, American citizenship, changing gender roles and women’s bodies. The framing of obesity as a personal problem and individual failing reflects the merger of American individualism and neoliberalism. Self-regulation and responsibility (and the mother’s responsibility for her children) are key in prescriptions to manage obesity, reflecting biopolitical techniques of governance and a new model of ‘the healthy American citizen.’

Author Biography

Jeanne Firth is adjunct faculty at The Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University. She is helping launch The Grow Dat Youth Farm in New Orleans, Louisiana.