First lady Michelle Obama is releasing a hip-hop album late this year to promote her “Let’s Move!” anti-child obesity initiative.
The first lady does not lay down any rhymes herself, however. Instead, “Songs for a Healthier America,” set for release on Sept. 30, features artists such as Doug E. Fresh, Jordin Sparks, DMC and Ashanti, as well as TV medical personality Dr. Oz and the “Hip Hop Doc,” Dr. Olajide Williams.
The album’s catchy first single, “Everybody,” already has a video featuring a message from Obama, Doug E. Fresh, Sparks, Dr. Oz and students from the Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School. It relays the “Let’s Move!” campaign’s message to “work hard/eat right” and other healthy—but cool—lessons.
The 19-track album includes other songs such as “Veggie Luv,” by Monifah and J Rome, Hip Hop LEAN,” by Artie Green, and “Give Myself a Try,” by Ryan Beatty. The album is the result of a collaboration between Let’s Move!, the Hip Hop Public Health and Partnership for a Healthy America.
The album demonstrates the growing influence of hip-hop on the modern culture. “Let’s Move!” Executive Director and White House assistant chef Sam Kass said the Obama administration fully supports the use of hip-hop and other genres of music to encourage children to make healthier exercise and nutrition choices.
“Cultural leaders and visionaries in our country can give these messages to kids in a way that's not preachy. Kids are going to be dancing and listening to the music,” he told U.S. News & World Report. “I think hip-hop in particular – so many kids love hip-hop. It's such a core part of our culture …and particularly in the African-American community and the Latino community which is being disproportionately affected by those health issues.”
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010 more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. According to a 2008 study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 44 percent of Hispanic children and almost 50 percent of African-American children were overweight or obese, compared to 33 percent of Caucasian children.
The artists involved in this album hope it can help turn the tide. According to U.S. News and World Report, 10 of the 19 songs will be made into videos, which will be distributed to schools across the nation to be used during recess or physical education classes or other useful times to get children moving. The album also is available for free on the PHA’s website: www.ahealthieramerica.org/songs.
Recent reports demonstrate that such initiatives may be having a positive impact. According to the latest “Vital Signs” report from the CDC, obesity among low-income preschoolers declined slightly in 19 states and U.S. territories from 2008 through 2011, reversing decades-long trends.
“[This] announcement reaffirms my belief that together, we are making a real difference in helping kids across the country get a healthier start to life,” the first lady said in a statement. “We know how essential it is to set our youngest children on a path towards a lifetime of healthy eating and physical activity, and more than 10,000 childcare programs participating in the Let’s Move! Child Care initiative are doing vitally important work on this front. Yet, while this announcement reflects important progress, we also know that there is tremendous work still to be done to support healthy futures for all our children.”