Reinforcing messages should be provided in diverse media and effectively coordinated with other events and dissemination activities.
The media should incorporate obesity issues into its content, including the promotion of positive role models.
Encouraging children and youth to be physically active involves providing them with places where they can safely walk, bike, run, skate, play games, or engage in other activities that expend energy. But practices that guide the development of streets and neighborhoods often place the needs of motorized vehicles over the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists. Local governments should find ways to increase opportunities for physical activity in their communities by examining zoning ordinances and priorities for capital investment.
Community actions need to engage child- and youth-centered organizations, social and civic organizations, faith-based groups, and many other community partners. Community coalitions can coordinate their efforts and leverage and network resources. Specific attention must be given to children and youth who are at high risk for becoming obese; this includes children in populations with higher obesity prevalence rates and longstanding health disparities such as African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and American Indians, or families of low socioeconomic status. Children with at least one obese parent are also at high risk.
Health-care professionals, including physicians, nurses, and other clinicians, have a vital role to play in preventing childhood obesity. As advisors both to children and their parents, they have the access and influence to discuss the child’s weight status with the parents (and child as age appropriate) and make credible recommendations on dietary intake and physical activity throughout children’s lives. They also have the authority to encourage action by advocating for prevention efforts.
Recommendation 6: Community Programs
Local governments, public health agencies, schools, and community organizations should collaboratively develop and promote programs that encourage healthful eating behaviors and regular physical activity, particularly for populations at high risk of childhood obesity. Community coalitions should be formed to facilitate and promote cross-cutting programs and community-wide efforts.