Release No. 0254.10
USDA Office of Communications
Childhood Obesity Task Force Unveils
Action Plan: Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation
Cabinet Members and
Administration Officials to Address
Childhood Obesity at Events This Week
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 11 - Today, First Lady Michelle Obama joined Domestic
Policy Council Director Melody Barnes and members of the Childhood Obesity Task
Force to unveil the Task Force action plan:
Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation. In conjunction
with the release of the action plan, Cabinet Members and Administration
Officials will hold events across the country to highlight the importance of
addressing childhood obesity.
"For the first time, the nation will have goals, benchmarks, and measureable
outcomes that will help us tackle the childhood obesity epidemic one child, one
family, and one community at a time," she said. "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
In February, Obama launched the
Let's Move! campaign to solve the childhood obesity epidemic within a
generation. As part of this effort, President Barack Obama established the Task
Force on Childhood Obesity to develop and implement an interagency plan that
details a coordinated strategy, identifies key benchmarks, and outlines an
action plan to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation.
The action plan defines solving the problem of childhood obesity in a
generation as returning to a childhood obesity rate of just 5 percent by 2030,
which was the rate before childhood obesity first began to rise in the late
1970s. In total, the report presents a series of 70 specific recommendations,
many of which can be implemented right away. Summarizing them broadly, they
- Getting children a healthy start on life, with good prenatal care for
their parents; support for breastfeeding; adherence to limits on "screen
time;" and quality child care settings with nutritious food and ample
opportunity for young children to be physically active.
- Empowering parents and caregivers with simpler, more actionable messages
about nutritional choices based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for
Americans; improved labels on food and menus that provide clear information
to help parents make healthy choices for children; reduced marketing of
unhealthy products to children; and improved health care services, including
BMI measurement for all children.
- Providing healthy food in schools, through improvements in
federally-supported school lunches and breakfasts; upgrading the nutritional
quality of other foods sold in schools; and improving nutrition education
and the overall health of the school environment.
- Improving access to healthy, affordable food, by eliminating "food
deserts" in urban and rural America; lowering the relative prices of
healthier foods; developing or reformulating food products to be healthier;
and reducing the incidence of hunger, which has been linked to obesity.
- Getting children more physically active, through quality physical
education, recess, and other opportunities in and after school; addressing
aspects of the "built environment" that make it difficult for children to
walk or bike safely in their communities; and improving access to safe
parks, playgrounds, and indoor and outdoor recreational facilities.
Like the Let's Move! initiative, the Task Force report recognizes that
government alone cannot solve this challenge. Achieving the goal will require
strong partnerships with the private sector. The First Lady will work with
groups such as the Partnership for a Healthier America, a new foundation that
will draw upon the experience of honorary vice chairs former Senator Bill Frist
and Mayor Cory Booker, to cement private sector commitments towards the shared
goal of reducing childhood obesity, including but not limited to the action
steps in the report.
Additionally, federal agencies will be moving quickly to implement the
recommendations in the report that require federal action. In the coming year
- HHS will release new guidance for standards for physical activity and
nutrition in child care settings, and help consumers make informed choices
at restaurants and grocery stores, by getting calorie counts onto menus and
by working with the food and beverage industry to develop a clear, standard
"front of pack" food label;
- USDA will update the Dietary Guidelines and Food Pyramid to provide
parents and caregivers with helpful information about nutrition, and work
with Congress to pass a child nutrition reauthorization bill that improves
food in schools;
- FTC will continue monitoring how food is marketed to children, with a
follow-up study to its 2008 report on industry practices;
- USDA, Treasury, and HHS will work with Congress to bring grocery stores
and other healthy food retailers to underserved areas by supporting more
than $400 million in investments in a Healthy Food Financing Initiative;
- DOT and EPA will promote walking and biking to school, with a new best
practices guide from the DOT-funded National Center for Safe Routes to
School and new proposed voluntary "school siting" guidelines from EPA.
- Federal agencies will also make funds available to local communities,
including $25 million from HHS to support obesity prevention and screening
services for children, and $35 million in physical education program grants
to schools from the Department of Education, which will also be working with
Congress to create a Successful, Safe, and Healthy Students initiative as
part of a reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
In the coming weeks, Cabinet members and Administration officials will hold
events that highlight the ways in which each respective agency can do its part
to address the childhood obesity epidemic. Below is a summary of upcoming
events. For more details, please contact cabinet agencies directly:
- HUD Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing Sandra Henriquez
will travel to New Haven, CT on May 13 to highlight a partnership between
the New Haven Housing Authority and KaBOOM!, a nonprofit dedicated to
providing playgrounds for children.
- HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will join Rep. Baron Hill in visiting an
elementary school in Bloomington, Indiana, and will host a discussion with
parents, area health officials and childcare providers on obesity prevention
and healthy practices for children, of all ages, including creating an
environment conducive to breastfeeding and guidance for child care settings.
Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh will travel to Chicago to
highlight the role of health care providers in addressing childhood obesity.
- DOI National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, along with USDA Forest
Service officials, will visit Fort Dupont Park in Washington, D.C. on May
14th with students from nearby Kimball Elementary School. The park has a
vast network of recreational trails and a community garden.
- Education Secretary Arne Duncan will visit Tyler Elementary School in
Washington, D.C. to participate in their after-school physical activity
period and highlight their efforts to improve health, wellness and nutrition
- USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack will join D.C. Council Members in celebrating
the unanimous passage of the Healthy Schools Act at Alice Deal Middle
School. The legislation will improve the nutritional quality of D.C. school
meals, support farm-to-school and school gardening opportunities, and expand
access so that more children get a healthy school breakfast or lunch.
Report available at