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Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up?
important source of consumer nutrition information that should provide the basis for federal food and nutrition assistance programs, nutrition education, and nutrition policies.
The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act (P.L. 108-265) provided another step forward for childhood obesity prevention efforts. In 2004, Congress initiated and passed the legislation, which requires school districts participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or School Breakfast Program (SBP) to establish a local school wellness policy by the beginning of the 2006–2007 school year (CNWICRA, 2004). As outlined in the legislation, the school wellness policies should include goals for nutrition education, physical activity, guidelines for foods and beverages served throughout school campuses, and other school-based activities that are designed to promote student wellness in a manner that the local educational agency determines is appropriate. The USDA secretary, in coordination with the secretary of education and in consultation with the DHHS secretary, acting through CDC, are charged with providing technical assistance to establish healthy school nutrition environments, reducing childhood obesity, and preventing diet-related chronic diseases. The act establishes a plan for measuring the implementation of the local school wellness policy, supported by $4 million in appropriated funds (CNWICRA, 2004) (Chapter 7). The committee encourages the systematic monitoring and evaluation of the implementation and the impacts and outcomes of these policies throughout the nation’s school districts and local schools.
Progress is also under way to develop nutrition standards for competitive foods and beverages that are available in schools. In fiscal year (FY) 2005, Congress directed IOM to conduct a study to develop comprehensive recommendations for appropriate nutritional standards for competitive foods (Hartwig, 2004; IOM, 2006a). The study is in progress and when it is complete, the committee recommends that Congress, USDA, CDC, and other relevant agencies take expeditious action on developing national nutrition standards for competitive foods and beverages in schools.
The federal government has also demonstrated leadership in setting specific goals for childhood obesity prevention. DHHS incorporated into its Strategic Plan FY 2004–2009 an objective for the Indian Health Service to decrease obesity rates among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) children by 10 percent during this 5-year period (DHHS, 2004).
However, the committee noted that federal leadership fell short of an important recommendation in the Health in the Balance report, in that no progress was made toward the establishment of a presidentially appointed high-level task force to make childhood obesity prevention a national priority and to coordinate activities and budgets for this goal across federal agencies. Because childhood obesity prevention is a national priority that requires the collective efforts of many federal departments and agencies, the