Today, about two-thirds of adults and one-third of children in the United States 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 is used to treat obesity-related conditions. In order to reverse the obesity epidemic, HHS is employing a comprehensive approach that includes both clinical and public health strategies and touches people where they live, work, learn, and play.
- Improve Nutrition and Physical Activity in Early Childhood Settings and Schools
HHS is improving 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 is supporting access to safe, developmentally appropriate play spaces for children’s physical activity. HHS is expanding proven Head Start health programs to child care centers and other early childhood settings and is implementing assessment tools. In collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture, HHS is developing and implementing school-based interventions to improve school food, nutritional health, and physical activity. Through the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and the President’s Challenge, HHS is renewing its commitment to children’s fitness and nutritional health.
- Promote Healthy Weight through Medical Settings
HHS is developing training tools to enhance awareness, knowledge, and skills for health care providers and others. HHS has documented all covered obesity-related services under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program and will continue to emphasize healthy weight interventions in pilot and demonstration programs. HHS is supporting new health services research and programs focused on healthy weight in high-risk populations, increasing understanding of the forces contributing to obesity, and developing and implementing strategies for obesity prevention and treatment.
- Promote Workplace Wellness and Successful Community-wide Policies and Interventions
HHS is identifying and implementing policy changes that can help employees make healthy choices. HHS is focused on becoming a model healthy worksite, and is helping workplaces become healthier by promoting proven programs like LEANWorks!. HHS is implementing interventions that improve physical activity and nutrition through Community Transformation Grants, which are working to identify and disseminate model programs that work across community settings. These grants will support the implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of evidence-based community preventive health activities. Community programs and policies targeting childhood obesity are being implemented across the country, but their approaches have not been systematically studied. The Healthy Communities Study is a five-year observational study that will address the need for a cross-cutting national study of community programs and policies and their relationship to childhood obesity.
- Empower Consumers to Make Healthy Choices in the Marketplace
HHS is helping consumers understand nutrition information on packaged foods by working with industry to develop new guidance for menu labeling. Provisions of the Affordable Care Act ensure that patrons of chain restaurants and vending machines have nutritional information about the food they are consuming. HHS will collaborate with public and private sector partners to encourage the reduction of salt and trans fats in the food supply.