Led by first lady Michelle Obama, the White House Childhood Obesity Task Force on May 11 unveiled an action plan to target and solve childhood obesity in America within a generation.
“For the first time, the nation will have goals, benchmarks, and measurable outcomes that will help us tackle the childhood obesity epidemic one child, one family, and one community at a time,” Obama said in a press release. “We want to marshal every resource—public and private sector, mayors and governors, parents and educators, business owners and health care providers, coaches and athletes—to ensure that we are providing each and every child the happy, healthy future they deserve.”
The report lists a series of 70 specific recommendations, but they all fall under five broader categories: getting children a healthy head start on life, empowering parents and caregivers with simpler an more actionable messages about nutritional choices, providing healthy food in schools, improving access to healthy, affordable food and getting children more physically active.
The task force will seek assistance from the private sector in addition to the support it will get from federal agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency, among others.
“Our recommendations are not simply for Federal action, but also for how the private sector, state and local leaders, and parents themselves can help improve the health of our children,” Melody Barnes, chair of the task force and director of the Domestic Policy Council, said in a letter to President Obama. “The Task Force will move quickly to develop a strategy for implementing this plan, working in partnership with the First Lady to engage stakeholders across society.”
In fact, White House officials have already begun to push the strategy. The Department Housing and Urban Development’s Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing, Sandra Henriquez, traveled to New Haven, Conn. on May 13 to highlight a partnership between the New Haven Housing Authority and KaBOOM!, a nonprofit that provides playgrounds for children. That same day, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack celebrated Washington, D.C.’s passing of the Healthy Foods Act by serving students at Alice Deal Middle School.