Video: Giving children a healthy start on life

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    >>> to your doctor,

    >>> for the first time , this is the key we're setting really clear goals and benchmarks and measurable outcomes that will help tackle this challenge one step, one family and one child at a time.

    >> earlier today first lady michelle obama unveiled the findings of the first report by the childhood obesity task force . one in three u.s. children are overweight or obese, increasing their risks of many preventable diseases. white house domestic policy advisor melody barnes is the chairman of the childhood obesity task force . she joins us in the rain. thanks so much, we appreciate it.

    >> great to be with you .

    >> i found it striking this report makes a series of recommendations and yet says we don't need to have additional federal funding . how do you really take action that will have an impact without spending any money? i think some people will be suspicious of that.

    >> well, san va na, we do different things in this report. first of all, the president gave us the goal along with the first lady of significantly reducing childhood obesity in a generation. which means we have to bring it down from about a 20% level now to about a 5% level which is where it was in the 1970s . to do that we're imploring the resources of the federal government , state and local governments , the private sector , the philanthropic sector and also communities and parents. there are a number of different things we can do. we've already started work on a child nutrition reauthorization bill. that's already in the working. we've also asked for some other things in the president's budget that's recently gone up to capitol hill . but other things are low cost or no cost. it's working with schools, encouraging the private sector to take action. the first lady is also going to be working with the philanthropies that are putting dollars and resources into this, because they know it's such a significant problem.

    >> okay. i was going to say, you know, of course the old saying is you got to be wealthy to be healthy. a lot of these healthy foods, fruits and vegetables, let's face it, are a lot more expensive than fast food .

    >> well, one of the things that we want to do and encourage is healthy foods. healthy fruits and vegetables. for example, if we have greater supply, that means that the cost and the price of those fruits and vegetables will go down. in part we'll also be doing that by ensuring that communities have access to those fruits and vegetables through our healthy food financing initiative. putting some public dollars in but, more importantly, leveraging private resources and private dollars. we've already seen it work in places like philadelphia.

    >> i mean, at the end of the day , isn't this a lot about parenting, too? parents are busy. they may not feel like fighting the kid about they want more sugary juice or soda or making them eat fruit instead of something they'd rather eat, how does the task force address that issue which is ultimately pretty private ?

    >> what we've always said is we aren't going into people's homes and telling them what to do. what we are doing is empowering parents and caregivers with the information so they can make those decisions and so that they have access. if you don't have a grocery store in your community where you can get great fruit, you're not going to easily be able to buy it. if you can't buy it and your child experience it and taste it and see how wonderful it is, they're not necessarily going to like it. what we're doing is we're giving the resources to parents and to caregivers and we are also working in our schools, a place where we do have the ability. and we're partnering with the private sector . for the first time ever we have the food and beverage industry aligned with the administration in saying we have to meet certain nutritional standards. people recognize how this -- how important this is and we're all going to work together to achieve this goal.

    >> all right. white house domestic policy adviser melody barnes in the rain from the white house . thanks for your time today.

    >> great, thank you.

    >>> all right. i'm savannah guthrie .

By Associated Press Writer
updated 5/11/2010 11:23:57 AM ET 2010-05-11T15:23:57

Women could help reduce childhood obesity by maintaining a healthy weight when they become pregnant and by breast-feeding their babies, a government panel has found.

The suggestions were among 70 recommendations in the panel's report. First lady Michelle Obama released the findings Tuesday as part of her campaign against childhood obesity.

"For the first time, the nation will have goals, benchmarks and measureable outcomes that will help us tackle the childhood obesity epidemic one child, one family and one community at a time," Mrs. Obama said. "We want to marshal every resource — public and private sector, mayors and governors, parents and educators, business owners and health care providers, coaches and athletes — to ensure that we are providing each and every child the happy, healthy future they deserve."

One in 3 American children is overweight or obese, putting them at higher risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other illnesses. Obesity is even more prevalent among black and Hispanic children. Some public health experts say today's children are on track to live shorter lives than their parents.

Mrs. Obama has said she wants to help solve the problem in a generation so babies born today will come of age at a healthy weight. The report says that could happen if childhood obesity rates dropped to 5 percent by 2030.

The report and its recommendations are advisory. One exception is that Congress has begun updating the guidelines for food served in schools, including those dished up by vending machines. Pending legislation would spend $4.5 billion more over 10 years for nutrition programs; the Obama administration has asked for more than twice that amount.

The report says a woman's weight before she becomes pregnant and her weight gain during pregnancy are two of the most important factors that determine, before a child is born, whether he or she will become obese.

Video: First lady releases child obesity findings Studies find that about 1 in 5 children becomes overweight or obese by age 6, and that more than half of obese children become overweight before the age of 2. Nearly 6 percent of infants younger than six months are overweight, the report says, up from 3.4 percent between 1980 and 2001.

Breast-feeding after birth also helps, as studies have found that children fed that way are 22 percent less likely to become obese.

Restaurants should cut portion sizes
Mrs. Obama has talked publicly about many of the recommendations that found their way in the report since launching her "Let's Move" campaign in February, including having the appropriate agencies work with the food industry to put a standard nutrition label on the front of packaged goods.

The report calls on restaurants to consider portion sizes and post more calorie information. Other recommendations include updated federal nutritional standards for meals served at school; more school-based nutrition education; incentives to attract supermarkets to underserved areas; and an effort to get pediatricians to make a habit of calculating their patients' body mass index, a height-weight comparison used to measure fat.

A dozen federal agencies, including the Education, Agriculture, Health, Interior and Transportation departments, participated in the Childhood Obesity Task Force, which President Barack Obama created in February. The panel had 90 days to issue a report, and it sifted through more than 2,500 suggestions from the public on how to tackle the problem.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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