Education News in Brief

U.S. Issues Guidance for Children’s Fitness

By The Associated Press — May 18, 2010 1 min read

First lady Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity received a boost last week when the federal government issued its road map for tackling the problem, including taking steps to provide healthier lunches in schools.

The report recommends 70 specific steps that all levels of government, the private sector, schools, parents, and others can take.

Mrs. Obama has said her goal is to solve the childhood-obesity problem within a generation so that babies born today can come of age at a healthy weight.

One in three American children is overweight or obese, increasing their risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses, and contributing to high health-care costs. Some public-health experts say children today are on track to live shorter lives than their parents.

The recommendations touch on all parts of the “Let’s Move” anti-obesity campaign Mrs. Obama launched earlier this year, including giving information to caregivers, serving healthier food in schools, making healthy food cheaper and more available, and getting children to exercise more.

The first lady has spoken publicly about many of the recommendations.

“We know we have the tools. We know we have the resources to make this happen,” she said. “And now, ... we have a road map.”

The report set 2030 as a benchmark, saying Mrs. Obama’s goal of reversing the epidemic could be achieved if obesity rates fall back to 5 percent by then.

Among other recommendations, the report emphasizes prenatal care to get children off to a healthy start and says a woman’s weight before pregnancy and her weight gain while pregnant are important factors that determine childhood obesity.

Studies have found that about one in five children are overweight or obese by age 6, and that more than half of obese children become overweight before age 2.

A dozen federal agencies, including the departments of Education, Agriculture, Health, Interior, and Transportation, participated in the Childhood Obesity Task Force, which issued last weeks report.

A version of this article appeared in the May 19, 2010 edition of Education Week as U.S. Issues Guidance for Children’s Fitness