Some schools have made strides in starting childhood-nutrition and exercise programs. But for the most part, the nation is failing.
A new report issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) suggests that national efforts to combat childhood obesity are failing.
Currently, one-third of American children and youth are either obese or at risk of becoming obese, according to the report. That percentage is increasing, and so is the number of sedentary teens.
Although more states and school systems are aware that childhood obesity is a major public-health threat, efforts to implement changes are uncoordinated, unevaluated, and in some cases, simply unfunded, according to the report.
One such program, called VERB, was a simple — but massive — media campaign that put images of kids playing sports on billboards, TV ads and in magazines. After five years, at a cost of about $68 million a year, federal researchers charted an increase in the number of kids who said they got out and exercised. Even so, the program did not appear in the current budget from the president and was not reinstated by Congress.
The IOM committee is calling for a Cabinet-level task force to come up with an active and solid plan to help kids eat healthfully and exercise, both at school and at home.