Obama and obesity: Change you can believe in?


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In addition to mortgage rescues, banking bailouts and healthcare reform, some people would like to know what President-elect Barack Obama intends to do about the nation’s growing girth. Not to worry. A think tank called the Public Health Advocacy Institute, housed at Northeastern University’s School of Law, sent a list of nearly 50 legal and policy recommendations designed to combat obesity to Obama’s Health and Human Services transition team this week.

‘Public health, unlike some other national assets, cannot be ‘rescued’ or ‘bailed out,’ ‘ PHAI President Richard Daynard wrote in a cover letter attached to the document. ‘A sophisticated and aggressive federal approach to obesity is desperately needed.’


Among the recommendations:

  • Issue an executive order demanding that all executive branch agencies consider the impact of major federal legislation on the obesity epidemic, similar to the Environmental Justice Executive Order of 1994.
  • Impose federal taxes, both sales and excise, on purchases of unhealthy foods and beverages and earmark the revenue for obesity programs.
  • Prohibit and remove all commercial promotion of food in schools and educational settings receiving federal funds.
  • Provide funding through the 2009 reauthorization of the federal Child Nutrition Bill to establish a garden in every school.
  • Establish strict federal regulations limiting food and beverage advertising to children, including the Internet.

To see a copy of the document, go to the PHAI website. PHAI is a nonprofit law and policy research organization.

-- Shari Roan