Fight is on against childhood obesity

July 5, 2005

The American Medical Association (AMA) has released new directives to help fight childhood obesity and promote healthier lifestyles in schools across the country. In one of the planned efforts, AMA will develop a school health advocacy agenda that includes funding for school-based health programs, physical education and exercise (with stricter limits on declining participation), alternative polices for vending machines to promote healthy diets, and standards for healthier school lunches. The directives also encourage physicians to collaborate with communities to help develop health programs in schools."Children spend the majority of their productive time in the classroom, so we must improve access to healthy food and encourage more physical activity in school," said AMA Trustee Ronald M. Davis, MD. "Focusing our efforts on nutrition and exercise in schools can help prevent obesity and overweight in many children who may be at risk."

The American Medical Association (AMA) has released new directives to help fight childhood obesity and promote healthier lifestyles in schools across the country. In one of the planned efforts, AMA will develop a school health advocacy agenda that includes funding for school-based health programs, physical education and exercise (with stricter limits on declining participation), alternative polices for vending machines to promote healthy diets, and standards for healthier school lunches. The directives also encourage physicians to collaborate with communities to help develop health programs in schools.

"Children spend the majority of their productive time in the classroom, so we must improve access to healthy food and encourage more physical activity in school," said AMA Trustee Ronald M. Davis, MD. "Focusing our efforts on nutrition and exercise in schools can help prevent obesity and overweight in many children who may be at risk."

Recent studies have shown that nearly 16% of children between 6 and 19 years old are overweight or obese-one consequence being a sudden and steep rise in obesity associated illnesses, such as non-insulin-dependent diabetes and osteoarthritis, among US youth.

Some of AMA's new policies to help curb and reverse these statistics contain plans to:

  • encourage physicians to incorporate body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference as a component measurement in routine adult examinations and BMI percentiles in children

  • collaborate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies to review existing frameworks for school health

  • identify tenets for promoting school nutrition and exercise and create a recognition program to honor schools that meet the tenets

  • encourage health industries to make appropriate care available for the prevention and treatment of obese patients.

The new policies are an outcome of the AMA's 2004 National Summit on Obesity, at which national health experts met to identify various strategies to help fight obesity.

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