Kids need help staying slim, says U.S. Congress

October 13, 2004 in Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News

Kids need help staying slim, says U.S. Congress
U.S. schools may need more money and regulators may need more authority to help keep America\'s children from spiraling into obesity, experts and politicians told Congress last week.

Children need help to get away from television and video games and outside to walk, play and exercise. And corporations can help with programs aimed at educating kids about good nutrition and exercise.

More than 9 million U.S. children are obese, meaning their health is at serious risk. Another 15 percent of all children are overweight. Not only do they risk being fat all their lives, doctors say, but they have a higher than average risk of heart disease and diabetes.

This generation of kids growing up today could be the first to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

Last week, the Institute of Medicine said it would take a full national effort to battle childhood obesity. The independent group, which advises the federal government on health matters, said food and drink labels need to be clearer. It also asked restaurants to come up with more healthy alternatives for children.

Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd said he hoped the House could be persuaded to pass a bill introduced in the Senate last year aimed at reducing obesity, particularly among children and adolescents.

The bill would authorize $60 million for a demonstration community obesity program and give the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more authority to gather information on childhood fitness levels.

Congress is scheduled to adjourn on Friday until after the Nov. 2 elections.

The formula for obesity is clear: eating more calories than are burned off with exercise. But more research is needed on how to get people to change their habits in a world where they are surrounded by rich food and comforts.

Experts say that schools need extra funding to create exercise and sports programs that all children can take part in. In many cases, the only people who participate in sports are the best athletes�, they said.

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