First Lady Michelle Obama stood with members of the Childhood Obesity Task Force at the White House yesterday to announce the Task Force Action Plan: Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation.
The Action plan was called a “roadmap” for the Let’s Move! campaign, established in February 2010 by Mrs. Obama to solve the child obesity epidemic within a generation.
“For the first time, the nation will have goals, benchmarks, and measurable outcomes that will help us tackle the childhood obesity epidemic one child, one family, and one community at a time,” Mrs. Obama said. “We want to marshal every resource–public and private sector, mayors and governors, parents and educators, business owners and health care providers, coaches and athletes–to ensure that we are providing each and every child with the happy, healthy future they deserve.”
The plan includes five broad goals supported by a series of 70 specific recommendations, which the Task Force urges are implemented right away.
“What we know we have to do, and what we believe we can do, is to move from the levels where we are today, about 20 percent of our young people who are obese, to about 5 percent of our young people who are obese by the year 2030,” said Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes.
The first goal the First Lady discussed was Getting Children a Healthy Start on Life. The priority includes recommendation for getting good prenatal care for mothers; 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.
“To encourage children to eat healthier, we’re setting a goal to increase the amount of fruits that children consume to 75 percent of the recommended level by 2015, we want to increase that again to 85 percent by the year 2020, and then by the year 2030 we hope to be at 100 percent,” Mrs. Obama said. “We’re using a similar scale to increase the percentage of vegetables our kids are eating as well. We’re also working to decrease the amount of added sugar that our kids consume from a range of products.”
The second goal enumerated by the Task Force was Empowering Parents and Caregivers. This goal focuses on giving parents and caregivers 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 Body Mass Index (BMI) measurement for all children.
“To make sure that parents and kids are getting the right information that they need to make healthy decisions, we’re setting a goal that all primary care physicians should be assessing BMI at all well-child and adolescent visits by the year 2012,” Mrs. Obama said. “We’re also working to increase the portion of healthy food and beverages that are advertised and targeted to our children so that within 3 years the majority of food and beverage ads aimed at kids will promote healthy choices.”
The third goal is Providing Healthy Foods in Schools. The Task Force recommends this goal be met 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.
“We’re aiming to add an additional 2 million children to the National School Lunch Program by 2015,” Mrs. Obama said.
The fourth goal is Improving Access to Healthy, Affordable Food. The goal will be met 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.
“We’re looking at a population in this country where nearly 18 percent of children are food-insecure. So one of the pillars of Let’s Move and in this report is about Food Access. Food Access is about food deserts, but it’s about hunger and obesity–the same root cause–lack of access to good healthy food,” said Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan.
The final broad goal is Getting Children More Physically Active. To reach this goal, the Task Force recommends quality physical education, recess, and other opportunities in and after school; addressing aspects of the ‘built environment’ that makes 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.
“This road map is just the beginning,” Mrs. Obama said. She encouraged the community and the media to get involved in the fight against childhood obesity.
Accompanying the First Lady for the announcement were Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes, Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann DeParle, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Department of Housing and Urban Development Deputy Shaun Donovan, and Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan.