Health

Childhood obesity initiatives studied

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Oct. 2, 2006

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Schools, communities, industry and government have tackled the problem of childhood obesity with a host of new initiatives, but they are fragmented, and it's too soon to tell if they will be successful, according to a Sept. 13 Institute of Medicine report, "Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up?"

Currently, one-third of American children and teens are obese or at risk of becoming obese, and that rate is projected to rise to 20% by 2010 if the current trajectory continues, noted the panel that drafted the report.

The problem has been recognized, and schools are responding with more nutritious offerings in cafeterias and vending machines, and communities are building sidewalks and bike paths. But it will take years of systematic evaluation of health outcomes as measured by body mass index to judge the success of these efforts, the panel concluded.

Panel members called on federal, state and local governments to provide the leadership for a sustained effort. They said Congress should periodically evaluate the food industry's actions and that the Food and Drug Administration should be given the authority to evaluate restaurants to ensure that nutrition information is accessible to young consumers.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2006/10/02/hlbf1002.htm.

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