Institute of Medicine Releases Progress Report on Childhood Obesity

Statement of CSPI Nutrition Policy Director Margo Wootan

September 13, 2006

Despite isolated pockets of progress, we need bold national policies to stem the tide of childhood obesity. The Institute of Medicine progress report on childhood obesity should end the politicians’ handwringing, and spur strong and swift action.

Members of Congress, for instance, should show political courage by standing up to Coke, Pepsi and snack food makers and get soda and junk food out of schools. Senators Harkin and Murkowski have legislation— the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act. — that would give the U.S. Department of Agriculture the authority to do that.

Calorie counts on fast-food menu boards would let parents know that the grilled chicken sandwich has as many calories as a Quarter Pounder, and that on children’s menus the chicken tenders have more calories than the baby back ribs.

Congress seems more interested in dishing out special legislative favors to the industry—one bill that would block certain lawsuits against restaurants and food manufacturers, and another bill that would nullify state food safety and labeling laws.

We need major programs to get kids moving again, yet the Administration zeroed out funding for its youth media campaign, VERB, which has actually been shown to get kids to exercise. We don’t need any new task forces, study groups, or blue ribbon panels. What we need now is the political will to take strong action.


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