This morning at the White House, President Obama signed a memorandum establishing a childhood obesity task force. After defining the problem, President Obama wrote that he has "set a goal to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight." Members of the task force include the secretaries of agriculture, health and human services, and education, as well as the director of the Office of Management and Budget. The President asked the group to make recommendations within 90 days.
The memorandum also announces that First Lady Michelle Obama will lead a national public awareness effort on this issue (called Let's Move). She will reach out to the public, nonprofit, and private sectors, as well as families, and help find and promote solutions in four areas:
- Healthy Choices: Efforts include better nutrition labeling, a revamped food pyramid, and regular monitoring of children's BMI.
- Healthier Schools: Let's Move advocates reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act for improved school lunches and expansion of the Healthier US Schools Challenge.
- Physical Activity: Modernize the President's Physical Fitness Challenge program and increase participation; partner with professional athletes to encourage 60 minutes of active play every day.
- Accessing Healthy and Affordable Food: Address the problem of "food deserts," urban and rural areas without access to affordable, nutritious foods. The President's proposed budget for 2011 includes investment in a Healthy Food Financing Initiative, an effort to bring better shopping options to these areas.
In signing the order, President Obama said, "this has enormous promise in improving the health of our children, in giving support to parents to make the kinds of healthy choices that oftentimes are very difficult in this kind of environment." I will be looking forward to the task force's recommendations, and the First Lady's efforts.