engagement of the private sector in developing constructive, socially responsible, and potentially profitable approaches to the promotion of a healthy weight.

State and local governments have especially important roles to play in obesity prevention, as they can focus on the specific needs of their state, cities, and neighborhoods. Many of the issues involved in preventing childhood obesity—including actions on street and neighborhood design, plans for parks and community recreational facilities, and locations of new schools and retail food facilities—require decisions by county, city, or town officials.

Rigorous evaluation of obesity prevention interventions is essential. Only through careful evaluation can prevention interventions be refined; those that are unsuccessful can be discontinued or refocused, and those that are successful can be identified, replicated, and disseminated.

Recommendation 1: National Priority

Government at all levels should provide coordinated leadership for the prevention of obesity in children and youth. The President should request that the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) convene a high-level task force to ensure coordinated budgets, policies, and program requirements and to establish effective interdepartmental collaboration and priorities for action. An increased level and sustained commitment of federal and state funds and resources are needed.

To implement this recommendation, the federal government should:

  • Strengthen research and program efforts addressing obesity prevention, with a focus on experimental behavioral research and community-based intervention research and on the rigorous evaluation of the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, sustainability, and scaling up of effective prevention interventions

  • Support extensive program and research efforts to prevent childhood obesity in high-risk populations with health disparities, with a focus both on behavioral and environmental approaches

  • Support nutrition and physical activity grant programs, particularly in states with the highest prevalence of childhood obesity

  • Strengthen support for relevant surveillance and monitoring efforts, particularly the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)

  • Undertake an independent assessment of federal nutrition assistance programs and agricultural policies to ensure that they pro-

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