Recent reports on childhood obesity indicate that although interventions are taking place to address the problem, substantial challenges remain. Still, there is some promising news:
- In May 2010, the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity released their recommendations for addressing this serious health issue using public and private actions, initiatives and benchmarks. The recommendations were centered around: education and empowerment of families to make healthy decisions, accessibility and affordability of healthy foods and increased physical activity.
- A recent report from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program Bridging the Gap entitled School Policies and Practices to Improve Health and Prevent Obesity: National Elementary School Survey Results documents school wellness policies and their impact on student health. The study, which looked at the nutritional level of school lunches, vending machine content and availability, physical education and activity and the implementation of mandated wellness programs, found that overall, student had too much access to unhealthy food and drink choices and too little physical activity.
- Wellness programs in schools may hold the key to successfully addressing this health problem according to the results of a three-year study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine. This study, conducted by the The HEALTHY Study Group, found that while the interventions didn’t reduce the overweight and obesity rate overall, it did reduce the risk of diabetes and the rate of obesity in the highest risk group of children.
- The challenge of changing youngsters’ food choices permanently and for the better was illustrated by a research study entitled The Influence of Licensed Characters on Children’s Taste and Snack Preferences published online in Pediatrics, that found how strongly branding and marketing to children influences their snack preference. Overall, the snacks in cartoon character packaging were scored higher on “taste” by the preschoolers in the study. Reportedly, carrots weren’t a crowd-pleaser regardless of the wrapper.