Obama, speaking at a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said the idea was simple: "To put in place common-sense initiatives and solutions that empower families and communities to make healthy decisions for their kids."
The initiative will involve the federal government working with local officials and leaders in the business and non-profit sectors, she said, to provide more nutritious food in schools, allow more opportunities for kidsto be physically active and give more communities access to affordable, healthful food.
Obama has said she hopes one of her legacies will be her work in reducing childhood obesity, an effort she already has begun by planting the White House garden and joining in physical activities with children.
She told the mayors that as much as she has read and talked about the problem, "the statistics never fail to take my breath away."
About 32% of children and adolescents are obese or overweight, government statistics show. Almost 20% of children ages 6 to 11 and 18% of those ages 12 to 19 are obese. Such children are at a greater risk for weight-related health problems such as high cholesterol and diabetes, and they have an increased chance of becoming obese adults.