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Childhood Obesity Task Force Unveils Action Plan

WASHINGTON—First Lady Michelle Obama joined Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes and members of the Childhood Obesity Task Force on May 11 to unveil the task force action plan—“Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation”—70 specific recommendations to combat childhood obesity in the United States.

In February, Mrs. Obama launched the Let’s Move! campaign to solve the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation. As part of the effort, President Barack Obama established the Task Force on Childhood Obesity to develop and implement an interagency plan that details a coordinated strategy, identifies key benchmarks, and outlines an action plan to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation.

The action plan defines solving the problem of childhood obesity in a generation as returning to a childhood obesity rate of just 5 percent by 2030, which was the rate before childhood obesity first began to rise in the late 1970s. The report presents a series of 70 specific recommendations, many of which can be implemented right away. Some of the recommendations include:

• Getting children a healthy start on life, with good prenatal care for their parents; support for breastfeeding; adherence to limits on “screen time”; and quality child care settings with nutritious food and ample opportunity for young children to be physically active.

• Empowering parents and caregivers with simpler, more actionable messages about nutritional choices based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans; improved labels on food and menus that provide clear information to help parents make healthy choices for children; reduced marketing of unhealthy products to children; and improved healthcare services, including BMI measurement for all children.

• Providing healthy food in schools, through improvements in federally-supported school lunches and breakfasts; upgrading the nutritional quality of other foods sold in schools; and improving nutrition education and the overall health of the school environment.

• Improving access to healthy, affordable food, by eliminating “food deserts” in urban and rural America; lowering the relative prices of healthier foods; developing or reformulating food products to be healthier; and reducing the incidence of hunger, which has been linked to obesity.

• Getting children more physically active, through quality physical education, recess, and other opportunities in and after school; addressing aspects of the “built environment” that make it difficult for children to walk or bike safely in their communities; and improving access to safe parks, playgrounds, and indoor and outdoor recreational facilities.

The report recognizes that achieving the goal will require strong partnerships with the private sector. The First Lady will work with groups such as the Partnership for a Healthier America, a new foundation that will draw upon the experience of honorary vice chairs former Sen. Bill Frist and Mayor Cory Booker, to cement private sector commitments toward the shared goal of reducing childhood obesity, including but not limited to the action steps in the report.

Federal agencies also will move quickly to implement the recommendations in the report that require federal action, and Cabinet members and Administration officials will hold events that highlight the ways in which each respective agency can do its part to address the childhood obesity epidemic.

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