“Our nation has spent many billions of dollars to make incredible health advances related to genetics and other biomedical discoveries,” said Ross Brownson, PhD, a member of the IOM task force and chair of community health at Saint Louis University School of Public Health. “Yet these advances could be offset by the burden of illness and premature death caused by too many people eating too much and moving too little over their lifetimes.”
The IOM report offers specific ways to address the problem:
- Parents should serve healthy foods, encourage children to exercise, set a good example and limit the time children spend in front of a television or computer screen to under 2 hours a day.
- Schools must schedule at least 30 minutes of physical education a day and ensure that foods and beverages on campus meet nutrition standards.
- Healthcare professionals should routinely assess body mass and counsel families on weight, diet and physical activity.
- Food, beverage and entertainment industries should develop healthier foods and drinks, produce consistent messages urging children to become physically active and provide advertisements that are not misleading.
- Community organizations and local and state governments should expand programs that encourage activity.