The battle to end childhood obesity will require a long-term commitment by the federal government, schools, communities, and policymakers to change societal attitudes, concludes a report released last week by a federal advisory committee.
Presented to Congress by the Washington-based National Academies’ Institute of Medicine, the report recommends that schools at all levels institute new nutritional standards for cafeteria and vending-machine foods, increase their emphasis on physical education, and revise school curricula to promote healthy eating.
Jeffrey Koplan, the vice president of academic health affairs at Atlanta’s Emory University, who chaired the 19-member committee that produced the report, said in a statement that “we must act now and we must do this as a nation. This report is calling for fundamental changes in our society.”
“Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance” also calls for parents to encourage healthier eating habits for their children at home, and encourages physicians to check the body mass index of every child annually. The report is online at www.nationalacademies.org.
Communities need to expand opportunities for both children and adults to exercise by changing zoning requirements to require the building of more sidewalks, bike paths, playgrounds, and recreation areas, it says.
Federal statistics estimate that nearly 9 million U.S. children over the age of 6 are considered obese, Mr. Koplan said.