By Emily Goodin - 09/06/13 07:51 PM EDT
Michelle Obama credited her anti-obesity program with bringing about a "cultural shift" in the way Americans eat.
"Make no mistake about it. We are changing the conversation in this country. We are creating a cultural shift on how we live and eat. And our efforts are having an impact on our children's lives."
Obama said when she first began her signature initiative, she couldn't imagine a time when fast-food commercials advertised for breakfast sandwiches made with egg whites. And she praised restaurants like Red Lobster and Olive Garden for offering healthy choices.
Obama also reiterated an August study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed 19 states and territories saw obesity rates decline among low-income preschoolers.
But the first lady warned there was a still a "long way to go in solving this problem."
“Right now, we’re truly at a pivotal moment – a tipping point when the message is just starting to break through, when new habits are just beginning to take hold, and we’re seeing the very first glimmer of the kind of transformational change that we’re capable of making in this country."
She was joined at the event by basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, sprinter Allyson Felix and gymnast Dominique Dawes.
Obama, who stands tall at 5 feet 11 inches, joked that the 7-foot-1-inch O'Neal was "one of the few people on earth that can make me feel small."
"I can always wear my heels when Shaq is around," she said.
After the remarks, she and O'Neal took to the school's PA system to praise students for getting more active. Then they did a workout with some fourth and fifth graders, including running, skipping, squats and jumping jacks.