Michelle Obama Takes on Childhood Obesity

According to USA Today, First Lady Michelle Obama has unveiled a plan to "reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity" and called on help from governments, schools, and businesses as well as the families themselves.

"We're setting really clear goals and benchmarks and measurable outcomes that will help tackle this challenge one step, one family and one child at a time," Mrs. Obama said during a White House ceremony.

Mrs. Obama and her aides released a task force report entitled Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation. The goal, she said, is to "ensure that our children can have the healthy lives and the bright futures that they deserve."

Currently, one in three children are considered overweight or obese, Mrs. Obama said. "If we meet the goals we set, we will reverse a 30-year trend," she added.

The report makes some 70 specific recommendations, which the White House summarized as follows:

  • 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 health care 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.

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