President Obama signed a memorandum this morning officially launching a federal task force to battle the  childhood obesity epidemic. It's part of a government campaign to tackle the problem, led by first lady Michelle Obama, who declared fighting childhood obesity would be her signature issue this year. 

Known as Let's Move, the campaign focuses on better informing parents of the importance of nutrition and exercise, decreasing fat and sugar in school lunches, making healthy food more accessible to families and more emphasis on physical education.

The administration plans to get the FDA and the American Beverage Association to use better labeling of nutritional information, according to the Politico. The American Academy of Pediatrics will also work to educate their members on better obesity monitoring.


This falls in line with news we reported a few weeks ago that a government task force now recommends screening children as young as 6 for obesity and referring them to a weight loss program.

While government statistics released last month suggest the stunning three-decade rise in child obesity rates is leveling off, the rate is still too high, say public health officials. A third of U.S. children are obese or overweight, putting them at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep problems and depression.

Michelle Obama has spoken candidly about why this is a priority for her -- and the nation. Her own children had troubles with fluctuating weight, leading to Obama to make changes in their eating habits and exercise. Obama told NPR:

(Of course, the first lady's gotten a heap of criticism for being so forthcoming about the issue. Who knew trying to get kids to eat right and exercise could be controversial?)

The announcement comes on the heels of a Pediatrics article out this week about three key ways to curb childhood obesity: eating meals as a family, limiting TV time and getting kids enough sleep. Children in families who do this have a 40 percent less prevalence of obesity, the study found.

AP photo Michelle Obama and helpers tend to the white house garden.