The Institute of Medicine released a report today on how to prevent obesity in children from birth to age 5: Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies.
The report is remarkable for its focus on policies for parents and child care providers, and its almost complete lack of attention to policies for improving the food environment in which parents and caregivers operate.
The report’s key recommendations for children from birth to age 5:
- Promote breastfeeding
- Monitor growth
- Increase physical activity
- Provide healthy foods in age-appropriate portions
- Ensure access to affordable healthy foods; educate caregivers and parents
- Limit screen time (all media) to less than 2 hours a day
That’s all? Nothing about keeping sodas and junk foods out of the house? Only this about food marketing to kids?
The Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration should continue their work to establish and monitor the implementation of uniform voluntary national nutrition and marketing standards for food and beverage products marketed to children.
As the IOM well knows from its 2005 report on Food Marketing to Children and Youth, parents and caregivers cannot do this on their own. They need help, and that means policies to improve the food environment. The report does say a little about farmers’ markets and green carts as a means to improve access, but that’s it.
It’s time for a follow-up to the 2005 report. This doesn’t do it, alas.