The Washington Post

Sam Kass

"This is big," said Sam Kass of the White House, referring to new USDA regulations on snacks and a la carte lunch menu items in schools. "The question is how do we instill and inspire our kids [to choose healthier options]." (Meena Ganesan/The Washington Post)

Nearly one in three American children are overweight or obese. But after decades of rising rates, we may be turning a corner on the health crisis. Experts across fields gathered at Washington Post Live’s 2013 Childhood Obesity Summit to discuss strategies resulting in healthier children.

Sam Kass, ‘Let’s Move!’ executive director, White House

This isn’t a problem that we can pass a law to fix, or regulate our way out of. This really cuts to the core of who we are as Americans and as people. We have taken decades to get here, and it’s going to take us decades to really fully reverse course.

When you look out at the landscape, hundreds and millions of dollars are being spent to market all kinds of products — oftentimes ones that aren’t healthy — and our healthiest options are getting lost. That goes for water, fruits and vegetables, and lots of things. So the first lady said we have to unite and put our marketing power and our promotion behind the healthiest choices so that when Americans think, “Okay, I’m thirsty,” they reach for a healthy product. Only last week, we launched a water campaign called “Drink Up.” We’re going to see a logo on half a billion bottles of water.

We’ve seen from studies that show if you put Elmo on something — broccoli — it shoots up consumption by kids by about 30 percent, even when there’s an opportunity to get a brownie right next to it. We have to come together to market the healthier options, and make the produce section as colorful, dynamic and attractive as the cereal aisle or the packaged-goods aisle.


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