Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Task Force Releases Report on Childhood Obesity

To rollback childhood obesity in one generation.

Ambitious goal - to get the prevalence of childhood obesity down to 5% by 2030. No society has ever succeeded in undertaking such an enormous task - one that is complicated by deeply ingrained norms around diet and exercise, a well-financed commercial industry (not only fast/junk food, but also when it comes to diet and weight loss), and a general distrust of government-led initiatives.

The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity released its report (commissioned by President Obama on February 9, 2010) and it combines the best evidence for tackling weight gain among our nation's kids.

It quickly lays out the facts: our children are fatter than ever and it is impacting their health.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Updating Nutrition Labels

It was only 20 years ago that we began seeing uniform nutrition labels on processed food products telling us how many calories, how much fat and sugar, and what nutrients are in the food we eat.

But many health groups believe it's time to update nutrition labels. I agree that it's time to give consumers information in a way that is useful and helps people make healthy choices. In this week's Time, the Center for Science in the Public Interest suggested a few updates for the Nutrition Facts label.

One suggestion was to make "unhealthy" content like sugar and fat stand out using different colored text. I think that this could be misleading, given that not all fat is bad for you and it could lead to making less healthy choices. However, I love the idea of having the calorie count (per serving and per package) displayed clearly on the packaging. This is particularly important for beverages and "snack" foods -- like those $.99 chips or peanuts that are usually 2.5-3 servings and many more calories that people probably realize!

I would make it easier to read nutrition labels by changing words such as "sodium" to "salt". Hopefully innovators will see this as an opportunity to create a change in a space that will affect millions of peoples' food choices over the next few decades and will get involved.

How would you change the nutrition label?