December 4, 2008

Here's what Obama needs to do

The Public Health Advocacy Institute at Northeastern University School of Law presented to the Obama Transition Team a list of legal and policy recommendations to help reduce obesity in America.

Unfortunately, this is not an issue where Congress can "bail-out" the nation's youths.  It will take enormous effort and focus. And it must be done or all the money we pour into the health system will be wasted.

These recommendations are dense, complex and easy to dismiss as might not work. But it's a good start for the Obama administration.

BOSTON Nov. 24– President-elect Barak Obama’s Health and Human Services Transition Team today was presented with a series of nearly 50 legal and policy recommendations designed to combat the nation’s obesity epidemic.

The document, developed by the Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAI) at Northeastern University’s School of Law, was sent to the Transition Team by Richard Daynard, a professor at the law school and president of PHAI. DownloadPHAI Obesity Policy Recommendations to Obama Transition Team

“Public health, unlike some other national assets, cannot be ‘rescued’ or ‘bailed out,’” Dayard wrote in a cover letter. “A sophisticated and aggressive federal approach to obesity is desperately needed. “Such an approach could save countless lives and reduce the devastating consequences of this epidemic while meaningfully connecting with healthcare, agriculture and energy policies,” said Mark Gottlieb, Executive Director of the Institute. “A failure of federal obesity policy would have untenable public health and economic consequences.”

Among the recommendations:

  • Initiate a mediated public dialogue about reduced portion sizes as a tool for reducing caloric intake of the population.
  • Support adoption of a federal law requiring disclosure of calories on menus.
  • Develop a cultural program featuring popular personalities to elevate the social value of tasty, healthy food.
  • Impose federal taxes, both sales and excise, on purchases of unhealthy foods and beverages and earmark the revenue for obesity programs.
  • Promote and fund innovative farm-to-school and farm-to-community programs across the nation to support local farmers and increase access to locally grown food.
  • Prohibit and remove all commercial  promotion of food in schools and educational settings receiving federal funds.
  • Provide funding through the 2009 reauthorization of the federal Child Nutrition Bill to establish a garden in every school.
  • Establish strict federal regulations limiting food and beverage advertising to children, including the Internet.
  • Shift federal meal programs from the US Dept of Agriculture to the US Dept of Health of Human Services.
  • Include reimbursement for preventive care related to obestity as a structured health benefit.

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