The White House Task Force on Child Obesity released a report titled Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within A Generation . it detailed 70 initiatives that they say can be implemented in one year. Both desmoinesdem of La Vida Locaovre and Marion Nestle of Food Politics have commented on this report. I highly recommend reading both pieces. I will attempt to summarize the report here.
The goal of the committee:
That means returning to a childhood obesity rate of just 5% by 2030. Achieving this goal will require “bending the curve” fairly quickly, so that by 2015, there will be a 2.5% reduction in each of the current rates of overweight and obese children, and by 2020, a 5% reduction.
As Nestle says, this seems to be a fairly modest and reasonable proposal. The current rate of childhood obesity is 20%. In other words, the committee targets a rate of 17.5% by 2015, 15% by 2020, and finally 5% by 2030.
Melody Barnes, Chair of the committee, released a letter introducing the report.
Fortunately, there are clear, concrete steps we can take as a society to help our children reach adult-hood at a healthy weight As you requested in the Memorandum you signed on February 9, our new interagency Task Force on Childhood Obesity has spent the past 90 days carefully reviewing the research, and consulting experts as well as the broader public, to produce a set of recommended actions that, taken together, will put our country on track to solving the problem of childhood obesity
The report focuses on five areas:
1) Recommendations for early childhood
2) Empowering parents and caregivers
3) Healthier food in schools
4) Improving access to healthy foods
5) Increasing kid's physical activity
What the committee does not do is recommend an end to federal farm subsidies or a federal tax on sugar. It does, however, suggest the possibility of subsidizing healthy foods. This alone would be a huge step towards solving both the obesity problem and the problem of low access to healthy food in the so-called food deserts of inner cities.
The report does a very good job providing recommendations and benchmarks. Unfortunately that is all they are, recommendations. There is a lot of "education" and the baby formula and health insurance industries are sure to put up a fight in having many of these recommendations put into place. We are a long way from solving the problem but this report could be an important first step if it lays the groundwork for a way forward.
educating women about the importance of healthy pregnancy weight and breastfeeding
educate and support parents about reducing media time
promoting research into chemicals in the environment that may affect birth weight
Empowering parents and caregivers:
development of standard nutrition labels
display of calorie counts on all vending machine items
voluntary restriction of marketing to children
Healthier food in schools:
updating federal standards
encouraging investment in school cafeterias
improved nutritional education
increased use of school gardens
promoting healthy behaviors in juvenile prisons
Improving access to healthy foods
launching a multi-agency "Healthy Food Financing Initiative”
encourage local governments to promote grocery stores in underserved areas
evaluate the effect of targeted subsidies through nutritional assistance programs
Increasing physical activity
promote better physical education
building new schools with better pedestrian and bicycle access
increase safe playgrounds and parks, especially in low-income communities