This means encouraging school-day physical education requirements across the country, supporting recess for elementary school children, incorporating physical activity into many before and after-school programs, as well as ensuring that physical activity is part of 21st Century Community Learning Centers and other federally funded programs.
Create a built environment that supports physically active lifestyles.
This would involve providing funding to help states and localities widen sidewalks and provide bike paths and other recreational trails, site new schools in ways that invite safe biking and walking to class, and other related policies authorized by the Transportation Act (which was made public law in 2005 and provides federal surface transportation funding through 2010) and other statutes.
These high priority recommendations came at the end of an intense day and a half of discussion about the nearly 25 percent of Americans – including 9 million children – who are obese, and about ways to reduce their resulting chronic illnesses, psychological disorders, decreased worker productivity, and ballooning health care costs.
Beyond these six priorities, delegates focused attention on other areas that must be addressed to combat obesity. Among other things, they noted, ederal policies to promote improved nutrition must be tailored to ensure that healthy food choices are made accessible to low-income Americans and culturally diverse communities. Delegates also discussed the importance of providing training for doctors and other health care providers to monitor and address obesity in children and adults. Additional discussions focused on the potential value of economic incentives for businesses to provide and promote healthy lifestyles among employees, and of tax incentives for individuals to participate in organized physical activity in their communities.
Notable speakers at the Summit included:
Senators Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who discussed agricultural, education and other federal policies aimed at reducing childhood obesity. These included a Harkin-sponsored program that provides free fruit and vegetable snacks to students and that now operates, he said, in 400 to 500 schools in 14 states.
Chandler Converse, a 15-year old who explained how she launched her own grassroots student fitness and nutrition initiative in her home state of Georgia.
Peter Orszag, Director of the Congressional Budget Office, and Dr. Mark McClellan, former CMS Administrator and FDA Commissioner, who examined the economic consequences of obesity. Orzag said that because of climbing health care costs, including for diseases related to obesity, “the Congressional Budget Office is increasingly becoming the Congressional Health Office.”
Rear Adm. Penelope Royall, Deputy Assistant Secretary of HHS, who discussed Executive Branch steps to battle obesity.