Industry organizations welcome proposed legislation to tackle obesity

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition, Obesity

Trade organizations have applauded proposed legislation that would recognize obesity as a disease, and improve access to nutrition information and opportunities for physical activity.

Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and a bipartisan group of members of Congress introduced the Healthy Choices Act of 2010 in the House this week. It focuses on three different areas of policy intended to tackle obesity: access to and information on healthy foods, access to physical activity opportunities, and treatment of obesity as a serious medical condition through the health care system.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the American Beverage Association and the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) all issued statements on Wednesday expressing their support for the legislation.

Chairman of the GMA board of directors and chair, president and CEO of Del Monte Foods Rick Wolford said: “The Healthy Choices Act framework is both simple and attainable: increase access to healthy, affordable foods, emphasize preventive care and provide exercise opportunities. These three proven elements will help Americans of every age live healthy lives and will be vital to successfully addressing this country’s critical obesity challenge.”

The focus on childhood obesity in the United States has sharpened in recent months, with the President’s Task Force on Childhood Obesity, set up on February 9, due to report on its findings in the next few days. And the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign, which has the ambitious aim of ending childhood obesity within a generation, has also been welcomed by industry. It is estimated that more than one in three children in the United States is overweight or obese.

The American Beverage Association also came out in support of the bill, praising it for “addressing both sides of the energy balance equation”.

And GMA president and CEO Pamela Bailey called it sensible and science-based.

She said: “All of us – industry, government, parents, schools and non-governmental organizations share the same goal of solving obesity within a generation. And we agree on how to get there. GMA and its members are committed to doing our part by providing parents and children with healthy choices, promoting healthy eating habits, enhancing nutrition knowledge, and supporting new opportunities for physical activity at school, in the work place and in our neighborhoods. Each of us has a role to play and if we all do our part, we can get the job done.”

The AFFI’s president and CEO Kraig Naasz said in a statement: “Promoting healthy lifestyles through improved access to healthy foods and nutrition information, and providing increased opportunities for physical activity will help us move toward a healthier America. Frozen foods serve a vital role in that movement.”

If enacted, this latest legislation would establish body mass index (BMI) as a ‘vital sign’ to be tracked in health records alongside other health indicators such as blood pressure and cholesterol.

Related topics: Regulation, The obesity problem

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