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New Weight Loss Plan for U.S. Obesity Crisis

Plan Would Cut Fast-Food Ads/Sales, Promote Activity and Healthy Foods

The IOM Obesity Plan continued...

Making Americans more physically active includes:

  • Improving communities to create access to places and programs where people can be active in safe, fun ways.
  • Ongoing, high-visibility programs to promote physical activity.
  • Requiring child-care providers to offer 30 minutes of physical activity for each half day of care.

Creating healthy food and beverage environments includes:

  • Ensuring that chain restaurants decrease offerings of calorie-dense foods to children and increase healthy options at competitive prices.
  • Setting nutritional standards for all foods and beverages sold or provided by the government, and ensuring "that these healthy options are available in all places frequented by the public."
  • In low-income communities, limiting the concentration of fast-food restaurants and convenience stores, and encouraging or attracting supermarkets and other healthy-food outlets.
  • The president should create a task force to review agricultural policies, including farm subsidies.

Transforming messages about physical activity and nutrition includes:

  • Federal funding of a sustained program of "culturally appropriate messages aimed at specific audiences." The messages would urge things like taking a daily walk, drinking fewer sugar-sweetened beverages, and learning how to read the new front-of-package nutrition labels.
  • An "or else" threat to the food, beverage, restaurant, and media industries: They must "take broad, common, and urgent voluntary action to make substantial improvements in their marketing aimed directly at children" and teens. If a "substantial majority" of these "marketing standards" have not been met within two years, government should set "mandatory nutritional standards for marketing" to this age group.
  • A single standard nutritional labeling system for all packages and store shelves. Chain restaurants must provide calorie labeling on menus.

Programs to promote physical activity include:

  • Standards of care for health care providers for prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment of overweight and obesity for children, teens, and adults.
  • Requiring health insurers to cover obesity prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment.
  • Encouraging employers to encourage "active living and healthy eating at work."

The focus on schools includes:

  • Changes to federal law to require all schools to have a grade K-12 physical education program with regular proficiency evaluations.
  • State funding of daily physical education at school for all students.
  • Ensuring that schools have strong nutritional programs that shift away from obesity-promoting foods and beverages (sugary beverages, fatty foods) to fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber grains.
  • Teaching kids "food literacy."

Will any of this really happen? Glickman is optimistic.

"We have reached a tipping point," he says. "You see the federal budget deficit, and the biggest part of the problem is health care costs. We can't sustain that. ... We have enough good ideas now about what the right things are to do. And we need to do them all, not just focus on one thing."

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