IFT emphasizes role of food science in obesity fight

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Childhood obesity, Nutrition

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) has said that food science has an important role to play in the federal government’s plans to reduce childhood obesity, including Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign.

IFT said it would like to see more research in several areas, including the influences of packaging, labeling, cost, portion size and food composition on behavior; the most effective ways to communicate nutrition information to consumers; the potential causes of obesity; the drivers of food-related behaviors; the effectiveness of weight management strategies; and biomarkers that could indicate risk of obesity.

The organization’s president Marianne Gillette said: "We recognize the critical value of raising public discourse on food and health issues associated with childhood obesity, and food science will continue to play a critical role throughout that discussion.

“In that regard, IFT believes it is imperative to foster a public-private dialogue based on the science of food. This will support the Task Force's scientific agenda and the First Lady's commitment to educate children and families on the importance of making the right food choices and encouraging an active lifestyle."

Gillette added that industry should work in partnership with health-focused organizations to develop healthier foods alongside public education efforts centered on making healthy food and lifestyle choices.

Michelle Obama launched her ‘Let’s Move’ campaign in February, with the stated aim of ending childhood obesity in America within a generation. It has attracted broad support from industry, and Mrs. Obama has acknowledged that major food companies have the potential to contribute to health and wellness due to their resources, brands, research and development capabilities, consumer reach and logistics expertise.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association has also backed the government’s anti-obesity strategy, emphasizing the reformulation that has already taken place to make foods healthier, as well as a shift away from advertising and marketing of unhealthy foods to children.

Childhood obesity is at record levels, with 32 percent of US children and adolescents overweight or obese, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This falls far short of an earlier government pledge to shrink the number of overweight children to five percent by 2010.

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