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Especially Among Children, Prevention is Key to Halting Obesity Epidemic, President of American Dietetic Association Tells Congressional Subcommittee
Date:3/26/2009

WASHINGTON, March 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A focus on prevention of behaviors that lead to obesity and excess weight, as part of a national program of education, promotion, policy and legislation, offers the best opportunity to halt the country's obesity epidemic, particularly among children, Martin M. Yadrick, the president of the American Dietetic Association testified Thursday, March 26, at a Congressional hearing on the state of obesity in the U.S.

"U.S. public policies could do more to address overweight and obesity in the United States," said Yadrick. While many understand the role of the Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has major opportunities to counter the epidemic. Among them are for USDA to invest in research, nutrition education and labeling and child nutrition. "Paying particular attention to child nutrition is especially important," Yadrick said.

Registered dietitian Martin M. Yadrick testified before the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry. He praised the committee for clearly identifying the national imperative to address obesity and the overall health of our population" and said ADA "is committed to improving the health of our citizens."

Yadrick noted that nutrition and diet are known to be associated with seven of the top ten leading causes of death in the United States today, including the top three: heart disease, cancer and stroke. He called obesity "an epidemic that has caught everyone's attention. This is a complex, seemingly intractable problem that defies an easy cure."

"We know that it is a better strategy to prevent overweight and obesity rather than simply attempt to treat them. And that means that we should pay particular attention to the issue of childhood obesity," Yadrick said. He also highlighted the importance of nutrition education and the need for strong child nutrition programs. "Children need to learn early in life about choices and behaviors that will keep them healthy for life. They need to be taught nutrition, how to choose and enjoy food, and they need to be taught how and encouraged to engage in physical activity. They need reinforcement of healthy eating and activity in order to make healthy living a habit."

Yadrick also highlighted ADA's recommendations to the federal Child Nutrition Act, including giving the Secretary of Agriculture authority to extend nutrition standards to all foods and beverages sold on campuses throughout the day for schools that participate in school breakfast, lunch and after school programs.

Yadrick urged the committee to focus on and invest in food and agricultural research. "Government-funded nutrition research is especially imperative. It is the basis for nearly everything we know about food, nutrition and human health."

"I am asking our elected leaders to make the paradigm shift in which prevention plays a more balanced role in our health system. And nutrition is the cornerstone of prevention," Yadrick said.

The American Dietetic Association is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the American Dietetic Association at www.eatright.org.


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SOURCE American Dietetic Association
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