Report calls for more action to prevent child obesity

By Eve Penhaligon

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Obesity, Nutrition, Childhood obesity

Government, industry and the general public have yet again been
called upon to curb the climbing childhood obesity crisis in the US
by a recently published report from Stanford University's School of
Medicine.

According to the report's findings, in order to combat the condition amongst children, both the public and private sector must participate to increase national awareness of the health benefits of physical activity. Released at the Harkin News Conference this month, the Generation Play​ report places responsibility on "stakeholders at every level including industry; government, schools, community organizations, local businesses, and families"​ to encourage children to exercise more frequently. Market leaders, including General Mills, have been quick to endorse initiatives proposed by the report, such as the Partnership for Play Every Day,​ which aims to ensure that kids receive over an hour of exercise every day. The firm, which has welcomed the call for a wider national involvement to stem the growing rate of childhood obesity, has already played a major role in industry efforts to combat the condition. Owner of brands such as Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Haagen-Dazs and Old El Paso, General Mills this month announced plans to change the packaging of over 500 million products consumed by children aged 12 and under. The food giant has also unveiled a new marketing campaign to compliment this packaging overhaul, which emphasizes the expedience of good nutrition in order for children to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Stanford University's recent study has been acclaimed by US trade group Grocery Manufacturers Association/Food Products Association (GMA/FPA). The group said the report directly correlates with its aims of "improving the health of all Americans by encouraging a healthy balance between nutrition and fitness". "This report underscores the fact that reversing the trend towards obesity in this country, especially amongst children, is a complex issue requiring a comprehensive approach and the involvement of stakeholders at every level including industry, government, schools, community organizations, local businesses, and families,"​ said GMA's Scott Openshaw.​According to estimates made by the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF), the frequency of obese children is expected to double before 2010, resulting in a population of around 287 million kids suffering from the condition, and the overall obese population could rise to 700 million by 2015. Without significant intervention, research conducted by the IOTF suggests that the overall obese population could reach up to 700 million by 2015. The Generation Play​ report signifies yet another call for all members of society to act fast and responsibly so as to protect youths from this and associated conditions.

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