America's progress in arresting its obesity epidemic has been too slow, and the condition continues to erode productivity and cause millions to suffer from potentially debilitating and deadly chronic illnesses, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM).
The report identifies strategies with the greatest potential to accelerate success by making healthy foods and beverages and opportunities for physical activity easy, routine, and appealing aspects of daily life.
Healthy food and beverage options should be available at competitive prices everywhere that food is offered and an effort should be made to reduce unhealthy products, the report says.
Fast-food and chain restaurants could revise their recipes and menus to ensure that at least half of their children's meals comply with federal dietary guidelines for moderately active children and charge little or no more for these options, the report says.
Shopping centres, convention centres, sports arenas, and other public venues that make meals and snacks available should offer a full variety of foods, including those recommended by the dietary guidelines.
Americans are surrounded by messaging that promotes sedentary activities and high-calorie foods and drinks, the report notes. The food, beverage, restaurant, and media industries should step up their voluntary efforts to develop and implement common nutritional standards for marketing aimed at children and adolescents up to age 17.
To increase positive messaging about physical activity and nutrition, government agencies, private organisations, and the media could work together to develop a robust and sustained social marketing campaign that encourages people to pursue healthy activities and habits.
Fiscal policies could help increase access to healthy foods and activity, the committee noted.
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