Student Well-Being

Michelle Obama Launches Water-Drinking Campaign

By Ross Brenneman — September 12, 2013 2 min read
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First Lady Michelle Obama has found the next big thing: Water. (Did that merit a drumroll? Sorry. Feel free to add one retroactively.)

Today, Obama, along with the Partnership for a Healthier America, launched “Drink Up,” a new campaign that pushes people to drink more water.

Not eight glasses. Not a specific number of liters. Just: More. Are you drinking water right now? If not, try a glass. If yes, have another—go ahead, it’s on the house.

The initiative adds to the first lady’s Let’s Move! campaign, started in 2010, which emphasizes improving child nutrition with things like broccoli, cauliflower, and other, you know, green stuff, along with exercise.

Obama kicked off the campaign this morning alongside actress Eva Longoria, a longtime Obama family supporter, at Watertown High School in Watertown, Wis. Federal efforts led by the Obama administration have changed school nutrition policies significantly over the last few years, and Drink Up will be one more point of pressure on K-12 institutions to give up on soda.

Drink Up arrives with a major public relations rollout, as bottled water companies plan to add the Drink Up logo to millions of products, and water bottle companies will do the same. And if you take a nice picture of something involving drinking water, you can Instagram it with #DrinkH20 and the photo will appear on the Drink Up website.

Water is good. Water-rich foods, like fruits and vegetables, are also good. Water does not cure cancer, but it does help clear up skin. (Looking at you, greasy teenagers!)

And water is unquestionably healthier than soda. While milk and some juices have more nutritional value, water is practically free and, naturally, hydrating.

Drink Up is actually a relatively neat feat of commercial engineering, as the White House solicited promises from all companies involved in the promotion not to diminish each other’s products while working on the campaign.

There are criticisms. Public-health advocates cast bottled water as being less healthy than tap water, because it lacks the kind of good microbes that help build strong immune systems. Additionally, plastic, either for bottled water or water bottles, doesn’t come free of environmental impact.

But then there’s this: The American Heart Association says that one in 20 students are severely obese. Schools have been stripping out vending machines, or upgrading the products within to healthier options, under pressure from the federal government. New federal nutrition guidelines and programs are also trying to cut into weight problems.

Let’s Move! and Drink Up are built on simple premises. It’s there in the names: Move. Drink. Establish a mentality first, then teach how water isn’t all the same and how some sources are better than others; after all, you can’t fine-tune a piano that you haven’t yet bought.

Drink Up, then drink responsibly.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.