Palin Disses First Lady’s Anti-Obesity Campaign

Is Sarah Palin really against child nutrition? Or just taking cheap shots at Michelle Obama?

Michelle Obama’s crusade to get American children to eat healthier was the butt of jokes on Sarah Palin’s reality show last night:

Sarah Palin is again taking aim at Michelle Obama over her anti-obesity campaign, taking the opportunity in Sunday’s “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” to land a diss against the first lady’s efforts to improve nutrition.

While making s’mores at one point during Sunday’s episode, the former Alaska governor proclaims the marshmallow and chocolate treat is “in honor of Michelle Obama, who said the other day we should not have dessert.”

It’s not the first time Palin has taken a job at Mrs. Obama over her campaign to discourage fattening foods, especially from public schools. The former vice presidential nominee told conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham last month that “the first lady cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat.”

Palin also hand-delivered cookies to a Pennsylvania school last month before delivering a speech there, saying: “Who should be deciding what I eat? Should it be government or should it be parents? It should be the parents.”

I generally don’t care very much what First Ladies do; they weren’t elected and the whole “power behind the throne” image that the Clintons conveyed during their first few years in office is one that made me, and I gather many other Americans, just a little bit uncomfortable. Nonetheless, I’ve always thought that the various charitable and public service activities that First Ladies have engaged in are harmless at worst, and possibly beneficial. Laura Bush brought attention to the problem of illiteracy in the U.S. and around the world, as well as the plight of women in Afghanistan under the Taliban. Michelle Obama is choosing to focus on a public education campaign to educate parents about the woeful state of child nutrition, especially in some of America’s poorest communities. To the extent that’s all she’s doing and not engaging in the type of Nanny State-ism we’re seeing in California, where municipalities are banning Happy Meals, I really don’t have a problem with it.

Is Palin actually saying she’s against child nutrition and against providing information to parents? Or is she just taking cheap shots at Michelle Obama?

FILED UNDER: US Politics, , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. john personna says:

    This is what they were talking about in that Atlantic article. Somehow conservatives have gone beyond hating the nanny state, to owning bad food.

    I guess it’s ‘logical’ at a superficial level. If the government hates this food, it must be good, right?

  2. john personna says:

    (For the record, I think eating s’mores after a day spent outdoors is an excellent and healthy choice. The commentary is misaligned with the rest of that active day.)

  3. She’s pandering to her base. A base that, let’s face it, does not have the intellectual curiosity to do any research for themselves. If Sarah Palin told these people that the sky was purple, they would believe it and claim that anyone saying otherwise was a part of the liberal elite media.

  4. MarkedMan says:

    Palin is well on her way to getting a reputation as that nasty seventh grader that can’t resist taking a shot with every comment. While those in her fan base cheer her on, even they must see her as less and less of a leader with each new bit of snark. Even seventh graders occasionally want to talk about something other than what a b***ch that other girl is.

  5. JKB says:

    Michelle Obama may be trying to educate but she is doing by appearing to dictate. She doesn’t provide information, she provides judgement. She says things like “We can’t leave it up to the parents.” She behaves the same way as the ill-fated Jamie Oliver visit to West Virginia, where he harassed kids and parents instead helping.

    The Obamas, Oliver and the whole cast of liberals don’t seem to understand the difference between providing good information and dictating their viewpoint. You’d think by now, they’d understand it isn’t just what you say but how you say it.

    And we mustn’t miss the irony that SF is banning the Happy Meal but has few children among their privileged citizens. Seems liberal utopia is not for kids.

  6. JKB says:

    …even they must see her as less and less of a leader with each new bit of snark.

    Yeah, it’s not like we see that in the President or anything? Granted, Obama is a poor example of a leader but he was chosen by 53% of the voters. Or the cadre of DC elite who make snide remarks about Palin almost daily. Only Palin’s is more light hearted than the attacks Obama makes on the people he comes to agreement with. And her comment was not a personal attack like the DC crowd do to her and her handicapped son.

  7. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    How I chose to raise my children is my business, not MO’s. I neither need nor want her “education” on how to feed my son. And given the size of her butt, she is probably not the best person to lecture about weight issues.

  8. john personna says:

    The problem Oliver faced in West Virginia was that the obese wanted to be stroked and petted and told they were fine just the way they were.

    Been to a high school event recently? Seen the token obese girl on the cheer-leading squad?

    There is a blur between compassion and acceptance.

    We should be kind to the fat girl, but no, she should not be a cheer-leader.

  9. TBogg says:

    “Is Palin actually saying she’s against child nutrition and against providing information to parents? Or is she just taking cheap shots at Michelle Obama?”

    There is also the third option that Palin is a very stupid lady and her little quip is what passes for wit around the trailer park. So, yeah, she’s talking to her obese scooter-riding low-information high-sucrose high-calorie scarfing base.

  10. anjin-san says:

    JKB… Please show an example of any prominent Democrat attacking Palin’s handicapped son. If you can, and this is just not more made up right wing victim BS, I promise you I will write to them and let them know what I think of such despicable behavior.

  11. John says:

    When childhood obesity is framed as a national security issue, it deserves to be ridiculed.

  12. john personna says:

    “When childhood obesity is framed as a national security issue, it deserves to be ridiculed.”

    So what, it’s just an easy way to be declared 4F in any draft?

  13. john personna says:

    Wow, I didn’t really know it was this bad:

    “Overall only 1 in 4 of our young adults between the ages of 17 and 24 is eligible for military service,” says Rear Adm. Jamie Barnett (ret.). Obesity is one of the main reasons, he says.

  14. The reality is that, “whether you like it or not,” the government already IS making decisions on how school kids eat, unless the parents send the kids to school with a sack lunch and no money.

    There have been times when the activities of the First Ladies have saved lives. While there are many examples (Reagan & “just say no,” Carter & mental health), the one that comes to mind is Betty Ford’s efforts regarding breast cancer – a battle that she didn’t choose; it chose her. Of course, her post-Presidential work regarding substance abuse must also be mentioned.

  15. narciso says:

    Meanwhile, the price of food, is going up, because of ethanol, and devaluation of the dollar,(re; QE 2) and higher fuel costs, because the drilling moratorium, and likely new regulations due to the FS bill, so maybe that’s the Swiftian solution, make it more expensive to eat anything.

  16. Pug says:

    Michelle Obama may be trying to educate but she is doing by appearing to dictate.

    Got any evidence to support that claim? Naw, I didn’t think so.

    Sarah’s going for the obese-American vote. It’s a huge voting block (no pun intended) and will really help a candidate nail down the South and West Virginia, too.

  17. John P says:

    Want government to stay out of telling you what to eat? Great, let’s drop all corn and wheat subsidies.

    Also, how many of you want the government to stay out of your food choices on the front end but pay for them on the back end in the form of Medicaid and Medicare?

    How can you say that this isn’t a national security issue when financial instability is directly related to our security and our biggest financial holes are health-related programs (Medicaid and Medicare) and the biggest drivers behind skyrocketing costs are diabetes and obesity…because parents are massively misinformed and under informed.

    If this is not the case (that parents and the public is misinformed) then you have to agree that they are well informed and make terrible decisions…which they then expect the government to pay for when they are 40 and have hundreds of dollars worth of prescription bills each month.

    Any of you on medication for blood pressure, need insulin for type 2 diabetes, depression, heart disease related illness, migraines, arthritis, shall I keep going? Now, do any of you on this board that fall into these categories care to share your daily dietary habits and what methods you’ve used to help determine that those particular habits are the most effective in trying to slow down or reverse your medically treated conditions?

    Hey, we’re all experts on food right? I mean we all eat three times a day…

  18. Remarkulus says:

    I watched about three minutes of that show, or maybe it just felt that long, but considering the obese children she was towing around with her in the “RV”* (niece and nephew I think), and considering her general attitude, she probably believes the First Lady launched her anti-obesity campaign as an attack on Sister Sarah and her family.

    *The RV is a fully furnished tour bus the likes of which Tim McGraw, Aerosmith, or Sarah Palin might use. It is not An RV in the sense that regular people may recognize.

  19. Derrick says:

    Palin is a nasty, vicious piece of work. I mean who hasn’t she said something snide and nasty about. Michelle, Barbara Bush, Boehner, of course Obama, Kate Couric, Frum, Rove et all. The only thing good about this list is that she’s equal opportunity. There is no single person who better represents are current political atmosphere than Palin.

  20. DavidL says:

    The reality is that FLOTUS, the Fat Lady of The United States, Michelle Obama needs to shut up about other people’s weight. FLOTUS is in no positino to give diet advice.

  21. ALP says:

    I do think that obesity is a problem with our children today, and with many adults. Just look around you at the Malls and Walmart. However I don’t believe its just what we eat. When I was a kid we ate a lot of sweets that Mom fixed. Mom however kicked our butts outside each day and said go play. These days schools don’t even have active recesses or heavy exercise programs in gym classes. Most kids spend far too much time in front of the TV and playing video games or texting on cell phones.

    Granted, Fast foods are not the best for you, but my generation ate a lot of foods fried in Lard, and we ate a lot of sugar treats and drinks. There were very very few FAT kids in my schools.
    That was because we were always active playing make up games of football, baseball, basketball, and others like, kick the can, red-rover, and more. We ran everywhere we went.

    I don’t need MO or cities telling me what to feed my kids! THE PARENTS and the SCHOOLS
    need to be better educated in teaching and providing Physical Education for the kids.

    I know some or even a good number of you will disagree with me but, I believe that a lot of physical activity is as important if not more so than what you eat. Even if you eat “healthy” foods, if you eat more calories than you burn off, you will get fat!

    The Government needs to stay out of our homes and kitchens.

  22. John P says:

    @ ALP – body composition is 80% diet so “go play outside” is sort of romanticizing the solution here.

    Additionally being “fat” doesn’t directly correlate to healthy. Google “skinny diabetes”

    Heck, if we want the government to stay out of it all let’s go ahead and give the kids cigarettes. They are our bodies, right?

  23. john personna says:

    What’s really amazing John, is that the smoking countries are outliving the fat ones.

  24. John P says:

    @ John. I’ve not researched that for the sake of comparison but it wouldn’t surprise me. Food is a drug, pure and simple. The intake of food alters everything from your mood to your hormones. It is the fuel that powers every single process happening in your body right now.

    For us to have such a poor understanding of how our bodies use the food we eat is inexcusable. In fact, it leads to statements like the one Palin made as a jab at an attempt to regulate the main culprits of diabesity in the US – sugar and processed food stuff (notice I did not say fat – fat does not make you fat).

    The triangle of diabesity that we are all caught up in to one degree or another involves mainly government subsidized) oils such as vegetable, sunflower and canola (Omega 6 fatty acids), wheat and corn products which our bodies simply aren’t made to process (eat corn tonight, then tell me what it looks like when you pass it tomorrow), and the high levels of sugar in everything (subsidized corn starches and syrups).

    Check any packaged food you’ve consumed recently. The ingredients will invariably start out with bleached flour or wheat or corn and transition into one of the oils mentioned for binding and storage purposes, then into some sort of sugar for flavor and will finally end up with a long list of things you neither recognize or can pronounce. But hey, it was “zero fat” or “100 calories”.

    And this is packaged and sold to us as food to fight fat but we keep getting fatter…and sicker. And when someone like Jamie Oliver or Michelle Obama want to point that out they get a big “FU” for their effort.

    @DavidL – If you don’t believe Michelle Obama because she’s “fat” believe me – she’s on the right side of this issue regardless of her politics.

  25. wr says:

    Without even getting into the stupidity of Palin’s complaint here, how does it possibly help someone who wants to be seen as presidential material to beat up on the first lady? If Palin wants to be seen as the equal of people with real power, she should stick to attacking those who actually make the decisions. Picking a fight with the president’s wife puts her on the level of the president’s wife, not the president.

    And I don’t even think the Palin nuts around here would vote for Todd…

  26. ALP says:

    @ John P- Apparently you did not read or understand what I wrote. I did not say that being “fat” directly correlates to to being healthy or unhealthy. Being obese however does. You apparently don’t think exercise is very important for young children. Granted a lot of the food we eat contains far too much fat and carbs. Carbs are converted to sugars and then to fat. One of the best ways to burn off fat is through good exercise.

    As to Kids smoking, That is something I believe comes from poor parental or peer guidance. The Gov controlling the sale of tobacco doesn’t stop kids from smoking if they want to. But if you look at the stats, far fewer teens smoke today than they did when I was a teen.

    Check this link out

  27. Muffler says:

    I’ve read many of these comments. Generally pointing out that good nutrition and healthy living are both good for children and the country’s national well being seems a positive thing. MO is not dictating anything and as usual this seems to be the reaction from the same people who think BO has usurped the constitution or something.

    The reality is this country is fat and gets less exercise then 30 years ago. Sure people can make a choice, but they aren’t getting the information or taught how and what is killing them prematurely. What they are getting is diet books and shows while the food they are sold on TV is supersized monsters of fat. If the parents aren’t eating healthy (yeah healthy like in how the body uses nutrients) then the kids don’t stand a chance.

    Go watch a documentary form the 50s and 60s. See how many fat people under 30 you see on the street. Very few as the calorie counts, balance and amount of exercise was better.

  28. Dave L says:

    Maybe you’re all missing the real target here.

    Mitt Romney is going to be flayed in the primaries for his Obama-esque health care policies while governor in Massachusetts.

    Now, Palin is laying the groundwork for a similar backlash against Mike “Quit Digging Your Grave With Your Knife and Fork” Huckabee. Once voters accept that Michelle Obama “may be trying to educate, but she is doing so by appearing to dictate”, it will be child’s play for Palin to insinuate that the Stalinesque former governor of Arkansas is a stalking horse for socialism, and will force obese citizens into ‘re-education’ camps where they will be fed one-worlder vegetarian propaganda, and precious little else.

    Next up will be Rick Santorum, and his unhealthy obsession with family dogs…

  29. mantis says:

    Remember when Ronald Reagan went after Rosalynn Carter? Oh wait, that didn’t happen.

    Real presidential material, this Palin lady.

  30. John P says:

    @ ALP. I do believe that exercise is massively beneficial for kids and adults alike which is why I am a certified CrossFit trainer. Heck, I trained a kid yesterday. But I’m also passionate about nutrition and if I had to pick between exercise and proper eating I would choose proper eating every time.

    The reason being is that you can control body composition and overall healthy much more effectively though diet than you can through exercise which was my point – and I’m sorry if my comment downplayed the role of activity and children’s health.

    To me it makes zero sense to tell the government to stay out of our kitchen when we turn around with a hand out on the back end when our kitchens put us into deteriorating health.

    That doesn’t mean I endorse government intervention though, but fair is fair. Ending government intervention means turning off the corn money to Iowa and applying massive cuts to the leeches in Medicaid and Medicare.

  31. PJ says:

    “If Sarah Palin told these people that the sky was purple, they would believe it and claim that anyone saying otherwise was a part of the liberal elite media.”

    Sounds like a great idea to try, now, how do you get close enough to Palin to write ‘SKY = PURPLE’ on her palm?

  32. Pug says:

    …force obese citizens into ‘re-education’ camps where they will be fed one-worlder vegetarian propaganda, and precious little else.

    I think that might work.

  33. AllenS says:

    Michelle Obama appears to be a couple of tacos short of a combination plate.

  34. An Interested Party says:

    “Michelle Obama appears to be a couple of tacos short of a combination plate.”

    What an interesting way to put it…meanwhile, Sarah Palin was, is, and will always be quite a few electoral votes short of ever getting anywhere near the White House…but that’s ok, she can continue to play the role of snowbilly grifter to her heart’s content, as she will always find a willing audience for what she has to say…

  35. anjin-san says:

    JKB… JKB… are you out there?

  36. JKB says:

    @anjin-san – I said DC crowd but just go to this Google search: Trig Palin liberal for a sampling (150,000 results). And of course, let’s not forget Andrew Sullivan but he seems to be political orientation confused.

  37. JKB says:


    Got any evidence to support that claim? Naw, I didn’t think so.

    Skip down here and just read MO’s remarks. Pick any of the dictate quotes you want. Also, her remarks reveal her ignorance of the restaurant business. Smaller portions does not mean smaller prices since most of the cost in the restaurant business is wages, insurance, energy and regulatory compliance. Not ingredient cost. And except for the snooty restaurants MO probably visits, leaving your customer hungry means losing the customer.

    Oh and this is interesting. As usual, the DC crowd make things worse with their unfunded mandates. Government mandates, gives a tiny amount of funding which forces cost for those not in government programs to increase. So net loss for those actually trying to make it as free people with a projected 43% increase in their meal cost in 5 years. But all good with that spreading the wealth from the just making it to the dependent class.

    According to the bill, schools will be given an average of six cents toward each meal that meets USDA nutrition standards starting in fall 2012.

    Gary Petill, the Unified district’s food services director, said the cost of those meals could hover around 20 cents each, meaning a loss of 14 cents for each meal. That’s a loss of more than a quarter per student per day if he or she eats both breakfast and lunch on campus.

    Another qualm Petill has is that the bill leaves behind “on-the-fence” families that can’t afford school meals but don’t qualify for free lunch programs. Under the policy, schools will have to charge more for meals served to students who can afford them, meaning if the cafeteria prices its breakfast at $2 now, it will have to eventually raise the price to $2.85 within five years, Petill said. Added revenue will help pay for district-subsidized meals for needy students.

  38. Gustopher says:

    I hope she gets eaten by a bear on her reality show.

    What a petty, miserable, shrill, boring little pest she has become. I’m just tired of her, and want her to go away for a while. Or be eaten by a bear.

  39. anjin-san says:

    JKB… still ducking my question I see.

  40. anjin-san says:

    > Smaller portions does not mean smaller prices since most of the cost in the restaurant business is wages, insurance, energy and regulatory compliance. Not ingredient cost.

    As someone who was once a buyer for a restaurant, I assure you that food costs are indeed a significant portion of a restaurants costs, especially since you have to allow for spoilage and waste, which denies you any return on a portion of your food costs.

    Someone is ignorant about the restaurant business, but I don’t think it is necessarily the First Lady, who I might add, you should refer to either by that title or Mrs. Obama, or Michelle Obama.

  41. anjin-san says:

    JKB… lets look at this one from your link list:

    Actually, it is pretty sympathetic to the need of Downs Syndrome kids, it is certainly no attack on Trig Palin.

    In this article:

    protesters yell at Palin to go home when she appears at a rally, carrying Trig with her. While I certainly think it is reprehensible to yell at a mother with babe in arms under pretty much any circumstances, Palin has to know there will be people who do not like her at rallies, and she makes the choice to bring her kids into that kind of an environment. It is a no class move by the protestors, but it is certainly not “an attack on trig”

    Well my wife says its time to check out. For what it’s worth, in my book, anyone who attacks Trig is a scumbag, but what I have seen so far does not quite pass the smell test.

  42. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Na na na na na. Palin says something and all you lefties go bonkers. You who thought the Dems would maintain control of congress, get ready to be wrong about Palin and the Presidency. She speaks a language you do not understand, but America does. Around here denial in not a river in Egypt. Only one or two good comments here the rest all BS. What can one expect from anyone who uses a name from a Clavell novel. John Blackthorn would be ashamed of you anjin. Richard Chamberlain you are not. More like Neville Chamberlain.

  43. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Janet Napolitano can say something as stupid as “we work 364 days a year to fight terrorism” and no one here notices. Palin, who does not hold a position in government makes a comment about the dictatorial tendencies of the (my baby’s got back) Michelle Obama and she is somehow unqualified for any position. I’ll be willing to be she knows how many states there are and the number is not 57. Most of you here are neither fair and you have no balance.

  44. John425 says:

    Bwaaah! All you Obamanauts have short memories. Anybody care to review the nasty, directly personal attacks against Sarah Palin? So Sarah makes a backhand comment. So what?

  45. An Interested Party says:

    “So Sarah makes a backhand comment. So what?”

    You are absolutely correct…the musings of some reality show celebrity are of no importance…