Making Headway or Headed Nowhere?

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Institute of Medicine raised an urgent alert against childhood obesity in 2004, much like the surgeon general did against smoking in 1964. The institute demanded "immediate steps for confronting the epidemic." How are we doing? The Washington Post's Susan Levine and Lori Aratani asked experts to grade some of the results.

Federal Government

The recommendations:

* Establish an interdepartmental task force to coordinate federal actions.

* Develop nutrition standards for foods and beverages sold in schools.

* Fund state-based nutrition and physical-activity grants with strong evaluation components.

* Develop guidelines on advertising and marketing to children.

* Expand funding for prevention research, surveillance and evaluation.

Jeffrey Koplan, vice president for global health at Emory University's Woodruff Health Sciences Center, former director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chairman of the 2004 IOM report and, in 2006, of the IOM's Committee on Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity:

Grade: D

"The [Bush] administration has avoided a leadership role in national prevention of childhood obesity, has not provided a consistent coordinated cross-departmental effort, has not provided substantive programmatic or research support beyond occasional rhetoric and has been surpassed in energy, creativity and leadership by state and local efforts."

Industry and Media

The recommendations:

* Develop healthier food and beverage products.

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