healthful diets. In addition, public and civic leaders at all levels should provide visible leadership on this issue. Education leaders, school districts, and local schools have been seeking to create healthier eating environments for students, said Wartella. In general, moderate progress has occurred in this area to date.
A Government–Private Sector Partnership
The IOM report recommends that a government–private sector partnership create a long-term social marketing program that supports parents, caregivers, and families in promoting healthful diets for children and youth. This program should be directed at parents of young children through marketing and widespread educational and community-based efforts, it should provide reliable and sustained support for these efforts through publicly appropriated funds and cooperative support, and it should have a mechanism for making proprietary marketing data available to inform the social marketing program. According to Wartella, this has been one of the most disappointing areas for progress on the report’s recommendations. In particular, the social marketing program to encourage the parents of young children to launch them on a lifelong healthy diet and exercise routine has not materialized.
The IOM report recommends that federal and local governments marshal the full range of public policy levers to foster the development and promotion of healthful diets for children and youth. Specifically, governments should consider implementing industry incentives to this end, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) should develop and test new strategies for promoting healthier and more appealing school meals, and governments should draft legislation for broadcast and cable television if voluntary efforts are unsuccessful in shifting the emphasis of advertising to healthier products.
Limited progress has been made in this area, Wartella reported. First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign and the Partnership for a Healthier America have been successful public-private partnerships, but the government has not taken action in a number of other areas. For example, the federal Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children recommended voluntary nutrition and marketing standards to guide industry self-regulatory efforts to improve the nutritional profile of foods marketed to children, but those standards have not been finalized, even though they were to be voluntary.