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White House's Childhood Obesity Task Force must focus on providing treatment for minority children
Date:9/8/2011

The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, created by the president as part of the first lady's "Let's Move" campaign, aims to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation, returning the country to a rate of 5 percent by 2030, which was the rate before childhood obesity first began to rise in the late 1970s.

In a recent U-M study, published online ahead of print in Obesity Journal, researchers evaluated the balance of prevention and treatment required for achieving goals laid out by the Task Force's May 2010 report.

To achieve this goal, researchers concluded that a shared emphasis on both obesity prevention and treatment strategies is required. Prevention programs alone cannot appropriately tackle the epidemic affecting children who are already obese, particularly minorities. Obesity treatment strategies need to be a key part of the equation.

"There is a lot of discussion about obesity prevention for children. That's certainly important, but it's not the whole story. Because so many children are already obese, there need to be greater efforts focused on treatment if we're going to have success," says Joyce M. Lee, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases at the U-M Medical School and a clinician at U-M C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

Rates of childhood obesity in the U.S. are much higher for minority children, with 20 percent of black and Mexican-American children affected, compared with just 15 percent for white children. Because the burden of obesity is already so high, prevention strategies alone will not help the task force reach its goal, the study concludes.

"Effective treatment strategies, particularly targeted to minority children, are especially needed," says Lee, the lead author of the study.

The study points out that recent legislation, including the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, may help progress efforts to reverse the obesity e
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Contact: Lauren McLeod
lemcleod@med.umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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