Report on Childhood Obesity – Planning for a Healthier Tomorrow
Childhood obesity is a serious health condition affecting over one-third of American children, from state to state. A recent national report, “F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America 2009,” released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), issued a list of health reform recommendations to combat obesity. It emphasizes the importance of preventative medical care, such as nutrition counseling and screening for obesity-related illnesses like Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure. The Report also recommends increasing the number of programs available in communities and schools that make nutritional food readily available and affordable to children and their families.
According to the RWJF Report, the fight against child obesity cannot make a nationwide impact without a concerted, national strategy implemented at the federal, state and municipal levels in collaboration with businesses, schools, and communities.
In another report, “School Meals: Building Blocks for Healthy Children,” the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that standards be set by the USDA for nutritious menu planning in schools, where fruit, vegetable and grains would pre-dominate, and sodium and saturated fats would be significantly reduced. The following quote is from Stefania Patinella, Director of Nutrition, The Children’s Aid Society:
The Children’s Aid Society applauds RWJF and the IOM for bringing attention to arguably the most urgent health issue facing our nation’s children. In 2003, Children’s Aid launched the Go!Healthy initiative to educate children and families about wellness and the joys of healthful cooking and eating. Go Healthy includes: Go! Kids, a toddler food and fitness program; Go! Chefs, a hands-on cooking and nutrition education program for children and families; and Healthy Meals, our foodservice program that feeds approximately 1,500 children each day in the early childhood, after-school and teen programs. The Children’s Aid Healthy Meals program adheres to and exceeds the IMO recommendations. Children’s meals are made entirely from scratch from original recipes that are based on whole and fresh foods, especially fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Healthy Meals constitutes a profound change to the heat-and-serve model of foodservice, and to implement it successfully we developed a Cook’s Training program to educate cooks in healthful food preparation and basic nutrition. The program has made a profound impact across our community centers—not only in increasing the nutrients and taste of foods we serve, but in broadening the palates and eating behaviors of children, teachers and parents. As districts around the country turn their attention to better school food, Children’s Aid is leading the equally important effort to provide better food in early childhood programs (where children consume up to 80% of their daily calories) and after-school programs.