First Lady Michelle Obama Launches Drink Up campaign in Watertown, WI

As seen in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

By Bill Glauber and Karen Herzog

Watertown — First lady Michelle Obama has been trying to get American kids to become more physically active through her “Let’s Move!” initiative.
Now, she is urging everyone to “Drink Up.”

To drive home the message, Obama came to Watertown High School on Thursday to pitch Americans on the health benefits of drinking water.

And for those who might dismiss such a campaign, Obama had a ready answer.

“Now, I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who might be asking — water? Really, water? What’s the big deal?” Obama said. “It’s not new. It doesn’t come in different colors or shapes. In fact, it doesn’t even have a color or a shape. And to be honest with you, not long ago, I might have been thinking the same thing.”

Obama said she has come “to realize that if we were going to take just one step to make ourselves and our families healthier, probably the single best thing we could do is to simply drink more water. It’s as simple as that. Drink more water.”

Obama’s appearance launched the roll-out of the nationwide “Drink Up” campaign.

The effort brings together the first lady’s “Let’s Move!” program with the Partnership for a Healthier America and is backed by government, media, industry, nonprofit groups and municipalities.

The Drink Up drop-of-water logo will appear on nearly 300 million packs of bottled water and more than a half billion bottles of water as well as public drinking stations around the country.

Watertown Mayor John David told the audience, “Needless to say, I’m excited.”

“It is a great honor for our city,” he said.

Wis-Pak Inc. and 7 UP Bottling Co., local employers, both bottle and distribute water, David said.

Lawrence Soler, president and CEO of the Partnership for a Healthier America,” said drinking more water is one of the easiest and healthiest things people can do every day.

“We’re not asking you to stop drinking anything. We’re just asking you to drink more water,” Soler said.

Mitch Port, Watertown High School’s student body president, introduced the first lady. He said he was surprised to hear “she was coming to our school.”

“I never imagined she’d be here,” he said.

After her first speech, Obama, accompanied by actress Eva Longoria, addressed around 1,500 students gathered in the school’s gymnasium.

She urged the students to remain active and said, “I see a lot of jocks. This looks like a school that keeps moving all the time.”

Obama and the students raised their water bottles and she said, “Let’s give a toast to the best drink in town.”

Students appeared to heed the first lady’s message as they participated in several water-related games set up throughout the gymnasium.

Perched in the bleachers was a handmade sign that read: “Welcome Mrs. Obama.”

Tyler Jones, 16, a sophomore nose tackle on the football team, said drinking water is important.

“As a football player, I have to stay hydrated,” he said. “If you’re not hydrated during a game, you’re gassed out.”

He said the coaches talked up the Obama visit during practice this week.

Gretchen Guse, 16, a junior, said the “Drink Up” initiative was a “good idea,” and she was thrilled to see the first lady.

“I appreciate that she came here to talk to us,” she said. “That’s cool.”

“Drinking more water is a good choice everyone can make every day,” said Kelli Stader, nutrition coordinator with the Chronic Disease Prevention Unit of the Wisconsin Division of Public Health.

“Water can give you more energy so you can do more, longer, with better focus,” Stader said. “With nearly 25% of children not drinking water on any given day, this is an important message for Wisconsin children.”

Some, however, have questioned the value of the campaign.

“It’s a very ‘safe’ message. There’s no harm that can come from it,” said SuJean Choi, an associate professor of biomedical sciences at Marquette University.

“Despite that I like Michelle Obama, I’m pretty skeptical about how much a campaign for drinking more water would accomplish,” Choi said. “I don’t think it’ll lead to a dramatic improvement in health.”

The drink-more-water message “is definitely how to keep everybody happy because no one is saying to replace something else with water,” Choi said. “Could they also add, but don’t take that extra water from a plastic bottle? The impact of a campaign decreasing the number of water bottles thrown away in landfills might be greater than encouraging individuals to drink one more glass of water.”

This activation was also covered by:

  • The Los Angeles Times
  • New York Daily News
  • CBS News
  • Huffington Post