Tags: U.S. | Trying | But | Often | Failing | Help | Obese

U.S. Trying, But Often Failing, to Help Obese Kids

Monday, 18 September 2006 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- Americans are beginning to realize that childhood obesity is a real problem and are even starting to do something about it, but there is no way to tell what actually works, a panel of experts said on Wednesday.

And at least one program that succeeded just lost its federal funding, the experts at the Institute of Medicine said.

"There is a proliferation of activity taking place across the country in schools, in the community and states, but precious little of it has been subject to evaluation," said Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, vice president for academic health affairs at Emory University in Atlanta, who chaired the panel.

"These things look good, some of them," added Koplan, a former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"There is a program in Marin County, California that promoted children riding their bicycles to school and they seem to have good success getting that to happen," Koplan said in a telephone interview.

"There was a national campaign called VERB done by CDC and the federal government to increase children's awareness of being physically active," he added. "That was shown to be effective in doing those things but then it ceased to be funded."

The program ends this month.

The need for better programs is clear. The obesity rate for U.S. children and youth rose from 16 percent in 2002 to 17.1 percent in 2004. It is projected to hit 20 percent by 2010.

Many parents have complained that testing requirements, budget crunches and other factors have caused schools to drop recess and physical education -- two important opportunities for children to get exercise.

"From my perspective as a physician and public health professional ... I'd have to say we should not remove physical activity from the school day," Koplan said.

"You put a group of 8-year-olds together sitting in a chair all day and ...they, like us, will lose concentration," he said.

Parents are also being urged to do more to help their children eat better, watch less television and exercise more.

The Institute of Medicine, which advises the federal government on health matters, issued a series of recommendations, which include more work from federal, state and local government to lead and monitor efforts.

"Given the increasing proportion of calories children and youth consume outside of the home, the report also recommends that the Food and Drug Administration be given the authority to evaluate full serve and quick serve restaurants' food, beverage, and meal options to ensure that nutrition information is more accessible and relevant to young consumers," the Institute said.

And schools need to do more, and to share their findings with parents and the community, the panel said.

(c) 2006 Reuters. All rights reserved.

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WASHINGTON -- Americans are beginning to realize that childhood obesity is a real problem and are even starting to do something about it, but there is no way to tell what actually works, a panel of experts said on Wednesday. And at least one program that succeeded just...
U.S.,Trying,,But,Often,Failing,,Help,Obese,Kids
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2006-00-18
Monday, 18 September 2006 12:00 AM
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