help shape these factors in positive ways by, for example, supporting the development of lifestyle behaviors that promote growth and development, making healthy foods available in appropriate amounts, and providing safe places for active play. Moreover, all of these factors come into play in the policy environment that surrounds and influences parents and children and must be addressed in a coordinated manner if progress is to be made against the early onset of childhood obesity.
This report addresses all of these factors and offers policy recommendations that together form an action plan for addressing obesity in young children. It focuses on the environments in which young children spend their time and is directed at the adults who shape those environments. Parents play the primary role in shaping children’s development and influencing their obesity risk through genetics and home environments. However, the focus of this report is on policies that are developed and implemented by policy makers and by caregivers who interact with parents and young children. Thus the report’s recommendations are not made directly to parents but to these “intermediaries,” to ensure that early childhood obesity prevention policies are implemented in a way that complements and supports parents’ efforts to maintain healthy weight in their young children. In particular, it is the committee’s hope that the report will find its way to federal, state, and local government policy makers who work in areas that impact young children in infancy and early childhood. The committee attempted to make the report user-friendly so that what we have learned about obesity prevention for young children can be put to good use in efforts to improve the present and future health of the nation’s children.
I want to express my sincere appreciation to the other committee members for their commitment to our task and the countless volunteer hours they contributed to this study and the development of the report. I also want to thank our workshop speakers for their insight and perspectives on preventing obesity in the first years of life. In addition, many thanks to Rona Briere for her editing of the report. Finally, I want to express my gratitude to the dedicated IOM staff who worked with the committee on this project: Annina Catherine Burns, study director; Nicole Ferring Holovach, research associate; Gui Liu, senior program assistant; Sheila Moats, associate program officer; Lynn Parker, scholar; and Linda Meyers, director, Food and Nutrition Board.
Leann L. Birch, Chair
Committee on Obesity Prevention Policies for Young Children