First lady Michelle Obama believes in talking to kids about the importance of good food and exercise. But she avoids discussing weight with her daughters, she said in a "Fireside Hangout" hosted by Kelly Ripa on Google+ Monday.
Speaking from the White House, Mrs. Obama answered questions from four adult participants, as well as an entire third grade class from Maine, and discussed her efforts to promote childhood health as part of the Let's Move! campaign.
In response to a question from participant Kishan Shah, who said he weighed 200 pounds as a 12-year-old and 400 pounds as a 19-year-old, Mrs. Obama emphasized the importance of discussing childhood fitness the right way -- and stressed the difference between "health" and "looks":
"The first thing that we want to make sure that we do is not make this an issue about looks. We should really talk to kids about how they feel, how they feel inside, so that we're not just dealing with the physical manifestations of the challenge, but we're really tapping into what's going on inside that head of that child."
Mrs. Obama added that while her daughters hadn't faced exactly the same situation Shah had dealt with, the first family had encountered "similar challenges."
"I never talked about weight in the household," she said. "We just started making changes. And we made changes in a way that didn't make [Malia and Sasha] feel badly about themselves; it didn't even make them feel any ownership over it. Because truly, kids that age can't control what they eat. So as the mom, I took it upon myself to make sure that we just surrounded them with foods that were healthy and that they could eat whenever they wanted to. You just have to get the temptation out of the household wherever possible, and then just try to make activity fun."
One way she encourages activity at home is through informal dance sessions, she explained later in the hangout:
"It doesn't take the great outdoors to be moving every day. One of the things that I do with my kids, I turn on the radio and we will dance and work up a sweat for a good 30-40 minutes. They laugh at me; they have a good time; but at the same time, we're moving." (We're assuming the trio leaves "Gangnam Style" to dad.)
Asked about reducing the stigma of obesity, Obama reiterated that it was particularly important to approach the topic practically when talking to young girls:
"I have two young daughters. We never talk about weight. I make it a point. I don't want our children to be weight-obsessed. I want them to be focused on: What do I have to do, in this body -- because everybody is different, every person's body is different -- what do I have to do to be the healthiest that I can be."
Perhaps fittingly, given her love of dancing at home (not to mention her recent viral dance collaboration with Jimmy Fallon), the hangout ended with a group Dougie.
Watch the full discussion in the video above.
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