As the First Lady wages a campaign against obesity, the Associated Press reminds us that the fight has been underway for more than half a century. President Eisenhower created President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and tapped RN to head it. In 1971, he looked back and pondered the issue:
In 1956, President Eisenhower called me into his office. You may recall this was the year after he had his heart attack. He had just read a very disturbing article with regard to the health of young Americans of high school age as compared with young people in Japan and European countries. And he said that it was essential that we develop a physical fitness program, one in which our young people would be more interested in physical fitness, more interested in it–recognize its importance to raise the standards.
I, as Vice President, was given the assignment of attempting to put some emphasis on this program. During the period that I was Vice President we made some progress in creating interest on the program…
[We} need to alert the people of this country, and particularly the young people of this country, that they can do something about their future to make them develop the health patterns which will avoid physical illness and very serious physical illness in the years ahead.