The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a new report, Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up? slamming progress in addressing rising childhood obesity rates in the US. The report points the finger at government, the food industry, and families — all are not doing enough to stem the bulging waistlines.
The report follows calls by International health bodies at a September World Health Organization (WHO) conference on obesity to ban marketing food to young children and in schools.
IOM experts held strong views that companies and the government are not doing enough, and may be stalling progress. One instance cited is Congress and the White House cutting funding this year for VERB, a federal program that encourage kids to exercise more. The program has proven effective but funding was still cut.
According to the report, the severity of childhood obesity is just starting to sink in. However obesity rates are still climbing and now affect more than 17% of American children and adolescents, an epidemic rate. Some experts expect the obesity rates to increase to 20%, or one in aver five children, by 2010.
Still, efforts at increasing mandatory physical education and junking junk food in public schools are “fragmented and small in scale,” far short of the comprehensive action needed and called for by the IOM in 2004.
Obesity rates continue to rise despite pleas from public health experts for major programs to combat the problem. Experts warn that one-fifth of U.S. kids are projected to be at risk for obesity by 2010 if current trends do not slow.
Government agencies, schools, and most parents have not yet grasped the gravity of increased rates of diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses that are sure to follow a rise in obesity.
While some states have done much more than others, more must be done.
Institute of Medicine