US First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign must include interventions that target pregnant women, infants, and pre-school-age children, and they should start as early as possible, opine UCSF experts.
Janet Wojcicki, PhD, MPH, UCSF assistant professor of pediatrics, and Melvin Heyman, MD, MPH, professor of pediatrics and chief of pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at UCSF Children's Hospital, discuss how "Let's Move" might have the greatest impact on reversing the childhood obesity epidemic in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Their piece will appear in the April 21, 2010, issue of the journal.
When the First Lady introduced "Let's Move" in February 2010, she outlined the campaign's central anti-obesity strategies. These include revamping the nutritional labeling of products by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, improving the nutritional standards of school lunches, increasing opportunities for children to engage in physical activity, and improving access to high-quality foods throughout the country.
According to Wojcicki and Heyman, these intervention strategies do have the potential to alter the course of the childhood obesity epidemic to some extent. However, because "Let's Move" focuses primarily on school-age children - many of whom already are overweight or obese - the program in its current form does not constitute a truly comprehensive obesity intervention plan.
"These types of behavioral and nutrition interventions in schools or within the home have only limited success in preventing weight gain in children," the authors say.
"Obesity prevention must start as early as possible, since school-age children already have an unacceptably high prevalence of obesity and associated medical conditions."