First lady Obama joins NFL in effort to make kids healthier

NEW ORLEANS -- First lady Michelle Obama came Wednesday to the French Quarter, not for fine dining or jazz, but to play football with the NFL.

She caught a pass during a flag-football drill with a group of children at a temporary field in Woldenberg Park. The NFL's Play 60 clinic is part of the league's events for Thursday's launch of its football season.

The program encourages children to move at least an hour each day. Its goals are similar to her "Let's Move!" campaign against childhood obesity. In July, she teamed up with Major League Baseball in Baltimore to promote exercise and healthy eating for America's youth.

"We're here because of you," she told about 70 students from the metropolitan New Orleans area. "We want you guys to grow up strong and healthy. Anyone can be smart and funny, but if you're not in good health, we know that you will have a hard way to go."

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She joined NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy and several former players, including New Orleans Saints running back Deuce McAllister and New England Patriots wide receiver Rodney Harrison.

"To team up with the first lady is definitely a good thing," McAllister said. "It goes right with what we're doing here today. I think the biggest thing is to keep people healthy now. If we do that, we may not have these diseases we're seeing popping up, like heart disease and diabetes."

Earlier Wednesday at Brock Elementary School in Slidell, La., Mrs. Obama launched a new phase of her program, focusing on nutrition.

Mrs. Obama said she wants food manufacturers to place better nutrition labels on products, more restaurants to post calorie information, and that better food and healthier options are available in schools and grocery stores.

She said the Louisiana school is a "model of excellence in teaching our children healthy habits."

The school's students participate in food-tasting parties and work with the cafeteria manager to teach their peers about healthy eating, she said.

"The reality is that our schools are on the front lines of our efforts to fight childhood obesity," she said. "The nutrition education they get at schools might be the only guidance they get on making healthy decisions about what they eat."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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