Government Task Force on Childhood Obesity

Posted: Mar 05 in Obesity Medicine by

This year the government launched a task force to combat childhood obesity.  The campaign Lets Move, is lead by First Lady Michelle Obama, an aims to improve school lunches and snacks, increase physical activity, and make healthy food more affordable.  The task force is accepting comments from the public.  We at Scottsdale Weight Loss Center support any and all efforts that will accomplish the goal of improving child health and reduction in childhood obesity.

My recommendations, as submitted to the task force are as follows:

It is a well established goal that children should receive 5 servings of whole fruits and vegetables daily. Few children achieve this goal. I wanted to make you aware of a resolution recently passed by the AAP at its recent Annual Leadership Forum regarding fruit juice. We applaud recent changes that reduce fruit juice in WIC packages and discussions to limit fruit juice intake in childcare centers.

However, our organization supports the intake of whole fruits and vegetables rather than 100% fruit juice and we advocate eliminating fruit juice completely from schools and childcare centers, in exchange for whole fruit.

Whole fruit offers the following benefits: 1. Whole fruit is lower in caloric density than fruit juice. It provides added fiber that is lacking in the typical American diet and which slows the absorption of sugar. 2. Eating a whole fruit serving provides less sugar than a serving of fruit juice. In fact, orange or apple juices have more sugar and calories than the equivalent serving size of soda.

It is our deep concern that the offering of any fruit juice to children in schools and childcare centers teaches the wrong habits. Children who receive fruit juice at childcare centers will likely exceed the recommended limitations of 6 oz daily if they receive any additional fruit juice at home. We hope to eliminate the administration of all fruit juices, including whole fruit juice, in schools and licensed childcare facilities.

Children should receive whole fruit or vegetables and water, rather than juice.

I recommend we require that vending machines contain foods that promote weight maintenance, such as those higher in protein and fiber, and lower in sugars, flour, and fats.  We have developed FoodGauge, a program to identify such foods.  This tool is available on iphone and Blackberry for download.  Some great snacks include high protein bars, edamame (soy beans), and beef jerky.

Early in high school, children should be educated to identify the early signs of weight gain.  I advocate that once fully grown, young adults should “NEVER BUY BIGGER PANTS.”   If the pants are tight, it’s time to exercise more and cut out some of the

snacks and high calorie drinks.   A campaign to NEVER BUY BIGGER PANTS will promote obesity prevention, since adults tend to gain weight as they age.

In Arizona and in other states, we have adopted obesity prevention toolkits that advocate the simple message: 5-2-1-0.  Specifically, children should eat 5 fruits and vegetables daily, limit screen time to 2 hours daily, exercise at least 1 hour daily, and eliminate sugary beverages.  This simple message can be easily communicated nationally.

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