Statement of CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan

The Journal of the American Medical Association today released a study showing that obesity rates in both adults and children are still rising rapidly. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) today called on the Bush Administration to strengthen its efforts to promote healthy eating and physical activity (a copy of CSPI’s letter is available). The following is a statement by Nutrition Policy Director Margo Wootan.

We applaud the Bush Administration’s use of the bully pulpit to promote physical activity and healthy eating. But preventing obesity and the diseases it causes will take more than just holding a few press events and urging Americans to jog more. President Bush should implement a comprehensive national obesity strategy that:

  • reduces junk food in schools and increases the availability of healthful foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk through the USDA school meals programs;
  • requires calorie labeling on menus and menu boards at fast-food and other chain restaurants;
  • provides the Centers for Disease Control with adequate funding for its nutrition and physical activity program and its Youth Media Campaign, which promotes physical activity to kids;
  • increases opportunities for children to be physically active at schools through daily physical education and walk-to-school programs; and
  • uses transportation policy to support walking, biking and mass transit.

Relying solely on personal responsibility and the bully pulpit is too low a dose of treatment to cure this serious health problem. While talk may be an inexpensive approach in the short run, it will cost the country more in the long run in prescription drugs, health-care costs, disabilities and lost productivity.

When it comes to national obesity policy, talk is expensive.