CSPI Urges Implementation of Recommendations in Institute of Medicine Obesity Report

Campaign Could Be Funded with Sugary Drink Tax, Group Says


A new report from the Institute of Medicine is calling for dramatic action on the part of governments, the food and health care industries, and schools to help curb obesity. The IOM report recommends reducing the consumption of sugary drinks, something long urged by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest.

"The IOM report provides an excellent blueprint for solving America’s costly obesity problem. But policy makers will have to invest both money and political capital to convert the advice into reality," said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "Congress should fund a multi-billion-dollar, multi-year anti-obesity program that includes national and local community and social-marketing campaigns. That program could be funded with a significant tax on sugary beverages. The SNAP (food stamp) program should be improved by testing the effectiveness of excluding purchases of sugary beverages and providing a bonus for fruits and vegetables."

"This country has shown that it can solve almost any problem when we come together and make it a priority—as we have to cut smoking rates in half," said CSPI nutrition policy director Margo Wootan. "With two-thirds of Americans affected by pre-obesity and obesity, this is clearly a societal problem that requires action by individuals, families, schools, health officials and professionals, governments, and industry."

CSPI called on the Obama administration to finalize strong menu-labeling rules which cover all foods at chains, including alcoholic beverages, prepared foods in supermarkets, and snacks at movie theaters. Food and entertainment companies should abide by meaningful nutrition guidelines for food marketing to children, according to CSPI. Restaurants should cut portion sizes and calories, make vegetables and fruits the default side dishes in place of French fries, and remove sugary drinks from kids’ menus. And all levels of government should provide healthier foods through their cafeterias and vending machines, stop selling sugary drinks, and price foods to support healthier choices, the group says.

"The country has begun to address obesity, but we are still doing far too little given the tremendous burden it places on our health and health-care costs," said Wootan. "It's unconscionable that we are still doing so little to help the two-thirds of Americans who are at risk of costly and debilitating obesity-related problems like heart attack, stroke, amputations, blindness, and cancer." 

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