Today, about two-thirds of U.S. adults and almost one-third of U.S. children are overweight or obese, increasing their risk for chronic diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, stroke, and arthritis. Almost 10 percent of all medical spending goes to treat obesity-related conditions. In order to reverse the obesity epidemic in the United States, HHS must employ a comprehensive approach that includes both clinical and public health strategies and touches people where they live, work, learn, and play. In support of nutritional health and a healthy weight for all Americans, HHS has identified the following set of actions for all to achieve a healthy weight, reversing obesity, at any age and stage of life.
Improve Nutrition and Physical Activity in Child Care Settings
HHS will improve program standards for nutrition, physical activity, and television viewing time and will promote adoption of these standards in child care settings through state licensing programs. HHS also will support access to safe, developmentally appropriate play spaces for children’s physical activity. The Department will expand proven Head Start health programs to child care centers and other early childhood settings; implement assessment tools in funded programs; and provide a focal point for information about nutrition, physical activity, and television time.
Promote Healthy Behaviors at School
HHS, working collaboratively with the U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture, will develop and implement school-based interventions to improve school food, nutritional health, and physical activity. By revitalizing the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and promoting the President’s Fitness Challenge, HHS will renew attention to children’s fitness and nutritional health.
Become a Model Healthy Worksite and Promote Workplace Wellness
HHS will identify and implement policy changes that help employees make healthy choices and will help workplaces across the Nation to become healthier by promoting proven programs like LEANWorks! This free resource helps worksites design obesity prevention and control programs.
Promote Healthy Weight through Medical Settings
The Department will develop training tools to enhance awareness, knowledge, and skills for health care providers and others. HHS will describe covered obesity-related services under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program and will emphasize healthy weight interventions in pilot and demonstration programs. HHS also will support new health services research and programs focused on healthy weight in priority populations, increasing understanding of the forces contributing to obesity, and developing and implementing strategies for the prevention and treatment of obesity.
Promote Community-wide Policies and Interventions that Work
HHS will implement interventions that improve physical activity and nutrition through the Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative and will work to identify and disseminate model programs that work across domains in a community. A childhood obesity prevention and reduction demonstration project will connect the clinical care and community service systems to help children achieve and maintain healthy weight and good nutrition.
Empower Consumers to Make Healthy Choices in the Marketplace
HHS will help consumers understand nutrition information on packaged foods by working with industry to develop new guidance for front-of-pack nutrition labeling. Health reform provisions will enable calorie information on menus at chain restaurants and vending machines to be shared. In addition, HHS will collaborate with its public and private sector partners to encourage the reduction of salt and trans fats in the food supply.