Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
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MARRERO, La. -- Michelle Obama brought her 'Let's Move' message to New Orleans on Tuesday.

She told a Latino audience that childhood obesity is an epidemic in the country. The number of Hispanic children affected is 40 percent.

The First Lady reminded the La Raza conference that by overeating, buying possessed foods that are not nutritious and not being physically active, we're making ourselves sick and shortening our lives.

'We often say it is a public health issue, which is true since we spend $190 billion a year treating obesity related illnesses like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease,' Obama said from the podium at the New Orleans Convention Center.

She said her three-year-old Let's Move initiative is making a difference.

'The Food Trust, which is working right here in New Orleans, is bringing fresh food into our communities. Restaurants are offering healthier menus. Mayors throughout the country are refurbishing parks and playgrounds, and we are bringing healthier breakfast, lunches and vending machines into our school cafeterias,' Obama noted.

She says people should use the free market, supply and demand, to make change.

'That starts by using our power as consumers to hold companies responsible for the food they make and how they market it to our kids. In 2008 alone, companies spent well over $500 million on food, beverage and restaurant ads in Latino media markets, many of them for unhealthy products,' Obama said. 'We all have the power to decide whether or not to actually buy those foods. And today, the Latino community buying power is more than $1 trillion. You hear me, trillion with a 'T.''

Later in the day, Mrs. Obama went to actor and entrepreneur Wendell Pierce's grocery Sterling Farms. It is one that stocked with fresh, healthful choices.

'And she just said, 'I'm very proud of you. I know how much of a risk that is for you as a business. I'm glad that you heeded my call. I'm glad that you understand what we're trying to do,' ' recalls Pierce.

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