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Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up?
the nutritional properties or the biological effects of foods and a reduced risk of obesity and related chronic diseases.
USDA should develop nutritional standards for competitive foods and beverages available in schools.
An example of demonstrated federal leadership is an initial stakeholder workshop, jointly organized by FTC and DHHS, to develop guidelines for the advertising and marketing of foods, beverages, and sedentary entertainment to children and youth. In July 2005, FTC and DHHS held a joint workshop, Marketing, Self-Regulation, and Childhood Obesity, that provided a forum for industry, academic, public health advocacy, and government stakeholders, as well as consumers, to examine the role of the private sector in addressing the rising childhood obesity rates. A summary of the workshop (FTC and DHHS, 2006) contains recommendations and next steps for industry stakeholders, including a request that industry strengthen self-regulatory measures to advertise responsibly to children through the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU). FTC and DHHS indicated that both of these federal institutions plan to closely monitor the progress made on the recommendations in the joint FTC and DHHS summary report (FTC and DHHS, 2006). Moreover, Congress has requested that the FTC compile information on food and beverage marketing activities and expenditures targeted to children and adolescents. The FTC will be soliciting public comment on these issues, and the results will be submitted in a report to Congress as mandated in Public Law 109-108 (FTC, 2006) (Chapter 5).
Recent actions by FDA are providing steps toward improving consumer nutrition information. In April 2005, FDA released two advance notices of proposed rulemaking to elicit stakeholder and public input about two recommendations of the FDA Obesity Working Group: the first action was to make calorie information more prominent on the Nutrition Facts label and the second action provides more information about serving sizes on packaged foods (FDA, 2006). In September 2005, FDA issued a final rule on the nutrient content claims definition of sodium levels for the term healthy (FDA, 2006). The IOM committee awaits further progress that FDA can make toward finalizing the rulemaking and exploring the use of evidence-based nutrient and health claims regarding the link between the nutritional properties or biological effects of foods and a reduced risk of obesity and related chronic diseases.
Joint efforts by USDA and DHHS resulted in the release of the sixth edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, which provide specific recommendations on the consumption of foods in different food groups, fats, carbohydrates, sodium and potassium, and alcoholic beverages; food safety; and physical activity (DHHS and USDA, 2005). The Dietary Guidelines and their graphic representation, MyPyramid, are an