Statement of CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan
The rising obesity rates in children are shocking, but considering that kids live in a junk-food, couch-potato culture, they are not surprising. Government’s response to childhood obesity has been some talk but little action, like telling a brain tumor patient to ‘take an aspirin and call me in the morning.’ What we need is a comprehensive strategy to address childhood obesity which includes:
- getting junk food out of schools and providing students with more healthful foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk;
- fully funding the Centers for Disease Control’s Youth Media Campaign which promotes physical activity to kids, but which the Bush Administration has zeroed out of its budget; and
- strengthening nutrition education in schools, providing daily physical education for every school child, and supporting safe-routes-to-school programs so kids can walk and bike to school.
If funding can’t be found out of general revenues, states and localities should levy (or for the dozen states that already have them, raise) soft drink taxes to reduce schools’ reliance on peddling junk food to kids to pay for school materials and programs. Healthy schools are junk-food-free schools.
Ultimately, parents bear the responsibility for providing healthy food and opportunities for physical activity for their children. But protecting your children’s health shouldn’t be like swimming upstream.