(Photo courtesy of GMA/Lawrence Levin)
The administration's emphasis on nutrition continued to capture headlines this week, starting with high-profile speaking platforms for First Lady Michelle Obama and a call for comments from the federal task force on childhood obesity. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) ended the week by announcing awards of more than $372 million for prevention and wellness activities in 44 communities throughout the country.
Interagency Task Force to Create National Plan
Members of the Task Force on Childhood Obesity include senior officials from the White House, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Departments of Agriculture, Education, HHS and the Interior. They have developed a list of 16 questions, published in the Federal Register, to solicit recommendations that will help them to develop a national plan to end childhood obesity within a generation.
One question, for example, asks what actions could ensure that children are eating healthy foods in schools and childcare settings. Another probes whether more resources allocated for research could provide new insight and additional answers.
IDFA will take advantage of the opportunity to guide and inform the task force by submitting comments before the March 26 deadline. The comments will reinforce the nutritional benefits of milk and dairy in children's diets and highlight the steps that processors are taking, such as reformulating products with less sugar, lower calories and reduced fat, to provide a variety of product options.
Members wishing to participate are encouraged to contact Michelle Matto, IDFA assistant director of nutrition and labeling, at email@example.com by Monday, March 22.
HHS Awards $372 Million in Grants
These awards are part of the HHS "Communities Putting Prevention to Work" initiative, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and will support public health efforts to reduce obesity and smoking, increase physical activity and improve nutrition. The grants will give 44 cities, towns and tribes the resources they need to create healthy choices for residents, such as increasing availability of healthy foods and beverages.
To view a complete listing of communities receiving grants, visit the HHS Web site.
Michelle Obama Blazes a Trail
The cover story of the latest edition of Newsweek features Michelle Obama and the fight against childhood obesity. To delve deeper into the topic, the magazine's editor interviewed the First Lady on Wednesday at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
Mrs. Obama said it's important for food manufacturing companies to provide labels that will help people determine which foods are healthy. She also mentioned the need for passing legislation to establish nutritional guidelines for school lunch programs and vending machines.
On Tuesday, the First Lady delivered a keynote address at the GMA 2010 Science Forum in Washington, D.C., to highlight her "Let's Move" campaign. She urged the food industry to work faster and go further to make and market healthier foods.
"The solution is not for the federal government to tell us what to do, but rather what can we do collectively to help make childhood obesity a public health priority," Mrs. Obama said.
IDFA Vice President Cary Frye and Assistant Director Michelle Mattto attended the address, along with representatives from several IDFA companies, and they spoke briefly with Mrs. Obama at the session's end.
For more information on IDFA's efforts on childhood nutrition, contact at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ruth Saunders, IDFA vice president of policy affairs, at email@example.com.