WASHINGTON— Cabinet officials stood shoulder to shoulder on stage with Michelle Obama on Tuesday to reveal the results of the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity: a 124-page report laying out 60 recommendations and a warning that, although the federal government can't solve the problem, it is prepared to take action if others don't.
The task force, created as part of the first lady's "Let's Move" campaign, defined success by the numbers: returning this country to a childhood obesity rate of 5 percent by 2030. The current rate is 22 percent.
The task force, headed by White House domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes, focused its efforts for ending the epidemic on five areas: prenatal care, empowering parents with nutritional information and community support, getting more healthful foods into schools, increasing access to healthful foods in neglected urban and rural neighborhoods and making sure that all kids are physically active.
Cabinet officials included Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan.
Highlights also included encouraging women to breast-feed their children as an obesity preventative, re-authorizing and expanding the Child Nutrition Act so that more children participate in its summer meals programs and rethinking public housing construction so that sidewalks and bike paths are included in the planning and street-facing porches are incorporated as a way of increasing neighborhood safety.
In addition to specific suggestions, the committee set out markers to measure progress. For instance, it would like to see children eating 75 percent of the USDA recommended serving of fruits by 2015. The goal is to hit 85 percent by 2020 and 100 percent by 2030. "Now we just need to follow through with the plan," the first lady said. "No one gets off the hook on this one."