Northwestern Hosts Event to Call Attention to Childhood Obesity Epidemic
Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary highlights the role of healthcare providers in addressing childhood obesity
Today, the Department of Health and Human Services assistant secretary of health Dr. Howard Koh visited Northwestern’s campus to highlight the importance of addressing childhood obesity. The event was one of many held across the country in conjunction with yesterday’s unveiling of the Childhood Obesity Task Force action plan: Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity within a Generation. Koh was joined by William Lowe, MD, professor of medicine and endocrinology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Stephen Martin, PhD, Cook County Commissioner of Public Health, who highlighted staggering obesity statistics within Cook County and across the country. Koh also discussed goals, benchmarks and measurable outcomes the country will employ to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity.
The action plan defines solving the problem of childhood obesity in a generation as returning to a childhood obesity rate of just 5 percent by 2030, which was the rate before childhood obesity first began to rise in the late 1970s. In total, the report presents a series of 70 specific recommendations, many of which can be implemented right away. Summarizing them broadly, they include:
• Getting children a healthy start on life, with good prenatal care for their parents; 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.
• Empowering parents and caregivers with 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 healthcare services, including BMI measurement for all children.
• Providing healthy food in schools, 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.
• Improving access to healthy, affordable food, 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.
• Getting children more physically active, through quality physical education, recess, and other opportunities in and after school; addressing aspects of the “built environment” that make 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.
For more information on the Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity within a Generation plan visit the Lets Move site.