Issue Date: November 14, 2011

Childhood Obesity

The issue: How involved should the U.S. government be in the fight against childhood obesity? Is the food industry unethically marketing unhealthy food to U.S. children?

Issues and Controversies: Michelle Obama Gardening with Kids

Rex Features via AP Images

First Lady Michelle Obama helps a group of children tend to the White House kitchen garden as part of the Let's Move! campaign in June 2011.

According to an estimate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a third of U.S. children ages 2–19 are overweight or obese. Those conditions can lead to serious and life-threatening long-term health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and heart disease. Seventeen percent of children and adolescents—about 12.5 million—are obese. Among low-income and some minority groups, the prevalence of childhood obesity is even higher. Furthermore, public health experts say childhood obesity is starting earlier in life, with almost a quarter of children ages 2–5 considered obese or overweight.

Many observers have noted the unprecedented nature of the childhood obesity epidemic. In an editorial for The Hill, former Senator Bill Frist (R, Tennessee) writes, "For the first time in our nation's history, our children and grandchildren are on track to live shorter lives than their parents. They will be sicker and less healthy than the generation that preceded them."

The administration of President Obama (D) has made battling childhood obesity one of its core health priorities. In February 2010, Obama announced he would establish a task force on childhood obesity and redouble U.S. efforts "to solve the problem…within a generation." Furthermore, First Lady Michelle Obama has made childhood obesity her signature issue. In February 2010, she launched Let's Move!, a federal program intended to increase the rates of physical activity among children and educate them about nutrition and proper eating. While Let's Move! has drawn bipartisan support from many politicians, conservative pundits such as Rush Limbaugh and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (R) have criticized Michelle Obama's efforts as an example of the government encroaching on parental authority.

Also under the Obama administration, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the CDC formed an Interagency Working Group (IWG) composed of nutrition, health and marketing experts. The group, according to its website, was tasked with "developing a set of principles to guide industry efforts to improve the nutritional profile of foods marketed directly to children ages 2–17 and to tap into the power of advertising and marketing to support healthful food choices." In April 2011, the IWG released a set of guidelines that detailed caloric and nutritional standards that it recommended that foods marketed to children should meet.

Although meeting the standards was voluntary, the food industry has lobbied for the government to withdraw or significantly alter the report's recommendations. Furthermore, support for the guidelines was largely divided along partisan lines. Democrats hailed the proposal as an important step toward fighting childhood obesity, while Republicans and conservative think tanks said the guidelines would trample on corporations' marketing rights, ultimately costing thousands of jobs in the food industry while increasing the price of food for families.

Should the federal government be involved in the fight against childhood obesity, or should that responsibility fall strictly on local communities and parents? Should the government pressure the food industry to stop marketing unhealthy food to children?

Supporters of federal involvement in the fight against childhood obesity argue that such a national problem needs a national solution. Programs such as Let's Move!, they say, spread awareness of the problem's seriousness and offer children and their parents the tools to fix it. Supporters note that while parents are ultimately responsible for their children's health, they face some challenges that they cannot overcome alone—such as the barrage of ads marketing unhealthy foods directly to their children, the shortage of fresh produce in nearby stores or the lack of safe, clean parks in which their children can play. The government is in a unique position to help families with those problems, supporters say.

Critics of federal involvement in the fight against childhood obesity argue that the government has overreached in its efforts to dictate the diets of U.S. children, which should be strictly the concern of parents. Furthermore, they say, blaming the food industry for childhood obesity and attempting to restrict the marketing of its products is counterproductive and an infringement on corporations' right to free speech. Opponents of federal involvement in the fight against childhood obesity maintain that families and private industry are capable of addressing childhood obesity without government dictates; in fact, many stores and food manufacturers have already taken steps to increase the supply of healthy food for young consumers.

The Dramatic Increase in Childhood Obesity

To determine whether a child (or anyone else) is obese, a measurement known as body mass index, or BMI, is used. Unlike an adult's BMI equation, which is based solely on weight and height, children's weight status calculation also incorporates age and gender because, according to the CDC, "children's body composition varies as they age and varies between boys and girls." Children with a BMI at or above the 85th percentile of the children of the same age and gender are considered overweight; those at or above the 95th percentile are considered obese.

Childhood obesity can have several serious short- and long-term health consequences. According to the CDC, children who are obese are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and high cholesterol, both of which put them at increased risk of cardiovascular complications. Obese children are also at risk of developing Type II diabetes, as well as breathing problems, such as sleep apnea or asthma. Furthermore, obesity can lead to joint and other musculoskeletal problems. Overcoming obesity in childhood is particularly important, experts say, because obese children are more likely to become obese adults, who will face similar and potentially fatal health risks, including heart disease. In addition to having long-term physical health consequences, childhood obesity can take a psychological and emotional toll. According to a report written by Laura Bellows, a food and nutrition specialist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, "Overweight children are at an increased risk of teasing and bullying, low self-esteem, and poor body image."

The prevalence of obesity among children has almost tripled just since 1980. Furthermore, the CDC reports that low-income and minority groups are more likely to be obese than other groups. In fact, according to the Let's Move! website, nearly 40% of children in African American and Hispanic communities are overweight or obese. [See Obesity]

The childhood obesity problem highlights a wider epidemic of obesity in the U.S.: about a third of U.S. adults over age 20 are obese, according to the CDC. Research has pointed to a link between obese parents and obese children, with most public health experts agreeing that overweight adults are likely to pass on weight problems to their children through a combination of genetics and poor eating habits. [See Obese Parents to Blame for Obese Children? (sidebar)]

Observers have offered different explanations for why childhood obesity has reached such unprecedented proportions. Many experts have pointed out that portion sizes, particularly in restaurants and in soft drinks, have increased as much as five-fold in the last few decades, providing many more calories for every meal. The IWG proposal notes, "Cookies and cakes, pizza, and soda/energy/sports drinks are the top sources of calories in the diets of children 2 through 18. Chips and French fries comprise half of all the vegetables kids eat." (The USDA considers the potato to be a vegetable.) Experts have also noted that physical activity among children is less than it should be because, in many neighborhoods, sidewalks and parks are not safe enough locations for children to play. Some public health advocates and legislators have encouraged local leaders to do a better job factoring children's play space into zoning and public planning laws. A number of observers also attribute children's lack of activity to the popularity of television and video games.

The Let's Move! website offers several other hypotheses for why children have increasingly struggled with weight problems:

Today, children experience a very different lifestyle [than 30 years ago]. Walks to and from school have been replaced by car and bus rides. Gym class and after-school sports have been cut; afternoons are now spent with TV, video games, and the internet. Parents are busier than ever and families eat fewer home-cooked meals.

In addition to calorie-rich diets and lack of physical activity, another contributor to childhood obesity, according to many experts, is the prevalence of what policy makers have begun to call "food deserts"—generally low-income neighborhoods without nearby stores that sell fresh produce or other healthy dietary staples. In Pennsylvania, policy makers have funded the Fresh Food Financing Initiative (FFFI), a program the CDC has hailed as an example for other states struggling to solve the problem of food deserts. FFFI uses public and private funds to provide loans and grants to encourage stores that sell fresh food to locate in neighborhoods in need, increasing access to healthy foods for residents. In addition to helping 52 stores open in underserved communities, the initiative was also estimated to create more than 3,300 jobs.

To help such state and local initiatives designed to combat childhood obesity, the CDC's division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity allocates funding to programs that reach its goals. State and local efforts have included mandating that schools serve healthier lunches, banning calorie-heavy sodas and sweetened beverages from school vending machines and encouraging more physical activity both in school and on the weekends. Furthermore, an increasing number of states require annual BMI screenings for students. [See Junk Food in Schools]

In 2008, JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, reported that, after three decades of growth in the prevalence of obesity among U.S. children, the upsurge appears to have leveled. The reason for that development is uncertain. According to the New York Times, "[A]t this point no one knows whether the pause will become permanent or whether it is simply a temporary reprieve, perhaps a statistical aberration, before the rates start upward again." Others, according to the editorial, think that "the epidemic may have hit a saturation point, where virtually all of the youngsters who are genetically inclined to become obese" have already done so. Although increases in overall childhood obesity have slowed, the CDC notes that "among the heaviest boys, a significant increase in obesity has been observed, with the heaviest boys getting even heavier."

Issues and Controversies: Childhood and Adolescent Obesity in the U.S., 1971-2007 (graph)

Michelle Obama Challenges Private Industry to Combat Childhood Obesity

While previous administrations have sought to address childhood obesity and obesity in the U.S. in general, the fight against childhood obesity has been particularly visible under the Obama administration. In December 2010, for example, Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which greatly expanded funding for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), established to provide nutritious lunches for children from low-income families. Conservatives have criticized the program, arguing that parents, not the government, should decide what their children eat. [See School Lunches]

A task force appointed by President Obama, called the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, reviewed all federal programs related to children's health and nutrition and recommended a five-pillar approach for Michelle Obama's Let's Move! program. The aims are creating a "healthy start" for young children, empowering parents and caregivers to keep their children fit, providing healthy food in schools, improving access to healthy affordable foods and increasing physical activity among children. According to the website, "Everyone has a role to play in reducing childhood obesity, including parents and caregivers, elected officials from all levels of government, schools, health care professionals, faith-based and community-based organizations, and private sector companies."

Indeed, Michelle Obama's campaign against childhood obesity has challenged private industry to contribute to the anti–childhood obesity effort. Speaking at a Grocery Manufacturers Association meeting in March 2010, Mrs. Obama urged food producers to "entirely rethink the products that you're offering, the information that you provide about these products and how you market those products to our children." She also told food manufacturers that the government and parents needed their cooperation to fight childhood obesity:

We can build shiny new supermarkets on every block, but we need those supermarkets to actually provide healthy options at prices people can afford. And we can insist that our schools serve better food, but we need to actually produce that food.… And that's really where you come in.

In May 2010, the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, a coalition of food and beverage companies including Coca-Cola, Campbell's Soup and General Mills, among others, pledged to slash 1.5 trillion calories from their food offerings by the end of 2012. Also in May, representatives of the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity released a report, alongside Michelle Obama at the White House, announcing the goal of reducing the childhood obesity prevalence rate to 5% by 2030. The report's 70 recommendations pressure food manufacturers to standardize their nutritional labeling and decrease the amount of advertisements that market junk food to children.

In April 2011, the IWG released a draft of guidelines for nutritional standards that food marketed to young consumers should meet, making the proposal available for public comment until the final version of recommendations is submitted to Congress. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the guidelines set "two basic nutrition principles for foods marketed to children." Food advertising, according to the proposal, should encourage children to pick foods that "make meaningful contributions to a healthful diet," such as foods from groups including vegetables, fruit, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk products, fish and extra lean meat, among others. The IWG also proposed that foods high in saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and sodium, or other ingredients that have negative health should not be aggressively marketed to children. In addition, the IWG encouraged the food industry to focus on making foods most heavily marketed to children—such as breakfast cereals, snacks, carbonated beverages and fruit juice—healthier and more nutritional. Many of those foods, health experts note, often contain high amounts of high fructose corn syrup, a high calorie artificial sweetener.

Representatives of the task force stressed that the guidelines were voluntary, but some observers have viewed them as preludes to stricter action. Washington Post contributor Robin Givhan writes, "While many of the recommendations to food manufacturers and marketers rely on the enormous bully pulpit of the federal government as the motivation to act, the task force noted that agencies reserve the right to use more extreme measures—such as subpoenas and new regulations—if need be." [See Excerpts from the White House Task Force Report on Childhood Obesity (sidebar)]

In addition to Let's Move!, Mrs. Obama launched the Healthy Food Financing Initiative in 2010, which aims to provide incentives for grocery stores to open in communities recognized as food deserts. In July 2011, executives from the national store chains Wal-Mart, Walgreens and SuperValu joined Mrs. Obama at the White House to pledge to open 1,500 stores in food deserts among the three of them. Walgreens in particular pledged to turn 1,000 of its stores into "food oasis stores" that would stock fruit, vegetables and other groceries the stores normally do not sell. Wal-Mart also said it would institute or expand food sections in up to 300 stores over the next five years.

Issues and Controversies: Public Views on Government's Role in Reducing Childhood Obesity (chart)

Government Must Help Parents Keep Children Healthy, Supporters Say

Supporters of government involvement in the fight against childhood obesity argue that parents who strive to keep their children healthy may not have all the tools they need to do so. The government, supporters say, should step in and enable parents to do the best job they can. Joe Thompson, the director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity, a national nonprofit organization, testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, "You can't say to a parent, 'your child should exercise more' if there's no PE in school and the only nearby park is so dangerous and run-down that no one dares visit. You can't say to a family 'eat more fruits and vegetables' when the only stores in the neighborhood sell six kinds of chips, and 12 kinds of soda, but not a single piece of fresh produce." Because efforts to combat childhood obesity must involve such a wide range of solutions—increasing access to healthy foods in underserved communities and creating safe parks for children to play in, for example—the federal government must be willing to help, supporters say.

Furthermore, supporters assert, federal programs like Let's Move! are not draconian attempts to regulate people's eating habits, but actually emphasize the importance of making responsible personal choices. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R), who lost over 100 pounds while in office, has defended Mrs. Obama against criticism from conservatives who say that federal programs to combat childhood obesity are evidence that the government has become too big and too involved in the personal lives of its constituents. According to Huckabee, conservatives have criticized the First Lady out of partisan reflex, when in fact her "approach is the right one." He said, "I do not think that she is out there advocating that the government take over our dinner plates." Rather, he said, the program "is exactly what Republicans say they believe, that you put a focus on individual responsibility. You encourage people to make good choices, and you reward them for doing so."

Supporters of federal action argue that marketing has a powerful effect on children's eating habits, and the IWG and White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity are right to pressure the food industry to act more responsibly in their marketing of food to children. Margo Wootan, the nutrition director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a Washington, D.C.–based healthy eating advocacy group, said, "[M]arketing shapes the whole way kids think about food, what they think everybody else is eating, what they expect to be fed…. Because of all this marketing, kid food has become synonymous with hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese with a side of fries and a soft drink." According to Wootan, the food industry spends about $2 billion annually to market food to children.

Food advertisements directed at children, supporters of federal intervention note, sell unhealthy foods persistently and often. David Britt, the former CEO of Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization associated with the children's television program Sesame Street, and Lori Dorfman, the director of the Berkeley Media Studies Group based in Berkeley, California, write:

We all know what food marketing tells our youth: "Eat this and have fun!" "Drink that, just like a baseball star!"… But we might not be aware of just how much of it children see—12 food pitches on TV per day, on average, and many more if they watch a lot of TV or play games on their phones or computers.

Parents cannot be expected to combat that barrage of child-directed marketing by themselves, supporters say. Wootan contends, "Companies actually know parents say 'No.' In fact, parents say 'No' about nine times for every time they say 'Yes.' They know they just have to get your kids to bug you enough so that eventually you are worn down."

Supporters argue that the Obama administration's multiple initiatives intended to combat childhood obesity do not seek to take choices away from parents, but rather to empower them. According to an editorial in TuftScope, a public policy journal associated with Tufts University in Medford, Massachussetts, "President Obama has recognized the fact that in order for a program against obesity to be effective, proposed changes need to be manageable and respect families' schedules, budgets, needs and tastes. Therefore, a primary goal of the campaign [Let's Move!] is to give parents and children the tools they need to make healthy decisions."

Food advertisements for children would not be an issue if they did not market the very foods that are at least partially responsible for the childhood obesity epidemic, supporters say. Britt and Dorfman write, "The problem is that most of the foods and beverages marketed directly to children are for fatty, sugary, salty products, with few fruits, vegetables or whole grains. Food companies and fast-food chains should be responsible and not market unhealthy products to children. Grown-ups can fend for themselves, but children deserve protection."

The food industry cannot be expected to market healthy foods to children responsibly without some government intervention, supporters insist. According to an editorial in Maine's Portland Press Herald, "These companies are in the business of selling products, not protecting our health.… Obama should keep the pressure on the food industry and be prepared to push harder" if company pledges to produce healthier food "don't show results."

Supporters of the IWG guidelines emphasize that they are not binding decrees. Britt and Dorfman note, "[T]hese guidelines are voluntary, not government mandates. Voluntary suggestions don't violate the First Amendment, won't hurt business or kill jobs.… Food companies should support parents and do right by children" and "work with the IWG agencies rather than against them."

The Obama administration should not buckle under to pressure from food industry lobbyists, but stand firm to lessen unhealthy food advertising directed at children, supporters argue. According to a letter sent by CSPI and signed by 75 researchers, "It would be a real setback for children's health if the Administration backed down on strong guidelines for food marketing to children, especially given the transparently specious arguments of junk-food advertisers…. Denying the science on food marketing and childhood obesity is like denying the science on global warming or evolution."

Supporters note that childhood obesity is an extremely expensive problem. Thompson points out that the costs of childhood obesity "start early in life. We've looked at the cost of impact…and see higher rates of illness, more doctors' visits, and increases in costs as early as 10 to 14 years of age." Overall, he estimates, "Childhood obesity is associated with annual prescription drug, emergency room, and outpatient costs of $14.1 billion, plus inpatient costs of $237.6 million."

Childhood Obesity Efforts Another Example of Government Overreach, Critics Say

The Obama administration's efforts to combat childhood obesity, critics argue, are another example of the federal government invading what should be private, individual and family decisions. Drawing comparisons between the Obama administration's efforts to reform health care and bail out several car makers and the financial industry, Representatives Lee Terry (R, Nebraska) and Paul Broun (R, Georgia) write in Roll Call, "In two short years, the Obama administration has managed to exert partial control over our nation's health care system, our automobile industry and Wall Street—and now it wants to control what you can and can't feed your children." They contend, "Tackling childhood obesity cannot and should not be solved by yet another overreach of the federal government."

Some critics have argued that state and federal government efforts to publicize the childhood obesity problem have aggravated the bullying of overweight kids by stigmatizing bigger children. Rebecca Puhl, director of Research and Weight Stigma Initiatives at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, told ABC News, "Stigma is not an effective motivator. Whether children, or adults, if they are teased or stigmatized they're much more likely to engage in unhealthy eating and avoidance of physical activity." Puhl added, "We need to be sure we are fighting obesity, not obese people."

Indeed, critics say that programs like Let's Move! place an unhealthy emphasis on BMI, instead of overall fitness. Linda Bacon, a nutrition professor at City College of San Francisco, has said that incorrect emphasis has "done much more damage than good. The larger kids feel bad about themselves, and the thinner kids feel it doesn't matter whether they exercise or eat well."

Parents, critics say, not the food industry, should decide what their children eat, and federal action that attempts to curb childhood obesity by targeting the food industry will be wholly ineffective. BNET correspondent Steve Tobak writes:

Kids don't go out and drive themselves to McDonald's or the supermarket to buy crappy processed food full of sugar and fat. Their parents do that…. And yet, we hear these endless debates about regulating food products and marketing, giving kids healthy choices, and all that. What a load of illogical, nonsensical crap. The children aren't the problem and neither are the food companies. Parents are the problem.

Furthermore, critics allege, the federal guidelines violate companies' First Amendment rights to free speech. Diane Katz, a research fellow at the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, writes that the guidelines are "unproductive and likely unconstitutional." She argues, "It is all too convenient that the IWG formulated the advertising standards as 'voluntary.'" If the rules were actual regulatory mandates, Katz argues, "a legal challenge would likely strike them down as an unconstitutional violation of free speech rights—firmly secured in precedent."

Critics argue that penalizing or blaming the food industry for childhood obesity is an ineffective way to curb the epidemic. According to a report released by the Bernard Center for Women, Politics & Public Policy, a think tank based in Potomac, Maryland, "The proposed guidelines would not serve their purpose: lowering childhood obesity. This almost certain failure," according to the report, is "due to the lack of any real correlation between advertising and obesity." Critics note that while food advertising has declined over the last few years, general U.S. obesity rates have continued to rise.

Furthermore, critics say, the IWG guidelines are extreme in the way they condemn certain foods. Tom Forsythe, the vice president of corporate communications at General Mills, a global food company, said, "Eighty-eight of the 100 most commonly consumed foods and beverages could not be marketed under the IWG guidelines. The list of 'banned' items under the guidelines would include essentially all cereals, salads, whole wheat bread, yogurt, canned vegetables, and a host of other items universally recognized as healthy."

If the IWG's recommendations were implemented, critics say, they would negatively impact the country's already unstable economy. Katz notes that according to IHS Global Insight, an economic and financial forecasting firm, the guidelines "would result in a 20 percent reduction in ad expenditures that would in turn cause losses of $28.3 billion in manufacturing and retail sales and 378,000 jobs lost by 2015."

The IWG guidelines could also negate productive food company–sponsored charities and local initiatives that do much good for children in communities across the U.S., critics contend. Terry and Broun write, "[T]he food industry would have to stop all community partnerships because this would be considered marketing to children. We would no longer see Godfather's Pizza as the national sponsor of Boys Town, Pizza Hut's national reading incentive program 'Book It!', General Mills' 'Box Tops for Education' or even the Ronald McDonald House." They add, "All of these programs greatly benefit programs across the country."

Critics say that private industry is capable of helping to reverse childhood obesity trends without government involvement. Frist writes in the Hill, "The American ideal has always been to do well while doing good. Private industry can make the healthy choice the easy choice and make money doing it." Critics of government intervention point to companies such as Wal-Mart and Walgreens, both of which have undertaken efforts to stock fresh produce in their stores to make healthy shopping easier for families, as examples of private industry engaging in the battle against childhood obesity.

Future of the Fight Against Childhood Obesity

In response to criticism from the food industry and some legislators, the IWG issued a letter in September 2011 saying it "anticipates making significant changes to both the marketing and nutrition principles" released in April. Consumer advocacy groups, however, urged the IWG to stand by its original proposal. In October, the news agency Reuters reported that the group would revise some of its proposals—including addressing ads directed at children only up to age 12, instead of 17 as the original report had done—and would no longer recommend banning the use of cartoon characters to advertise unhealthy foods.

Although some consumer advocacy groups decried the changes, even supporters of government action concede that the government alone cannot reach the Obama administration's goal of ending the epidemic within a generation. As Thompson testified before the Senate:

Everyone has a role to play in helping to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. School officials need to make quality physical education a regular part of the school day…. Government leaders need to [rethink] policies they might not associate with obesity prevention—like zoning,…which affects whether students can walk or bike to school. The food and beverage industries should look closely at the nutritional content of the products they offer, [and] parents need to lead by example.

Others say the fight for children's health should not be the contentious partisan issue it has become. Michelle Obama told reporters, "There is nothing Democratic or Republican, there is nothing liberal or conservative about wanting our kids to lead active, healthy lives." Regardless of good intentions, federal attempts to address the childhood obesity epidemic in the U.S. have fostered yet another debate about the proper scope and role of government in the daily lives of U.S. residents.

Discussion Questions & Activities

1) Why do you think almost a third of U.S. children and adolescents are overweight or obese? What are the main reasons for the growth in obesity prevalence?

2) Do you think the government should be involved in the fight against child obesity? Or is that purely parents' responsibility? Explain your position.

3) Do you think the food industry and advertisements marketed toward children have contributed to the child obesity epidemic? Why or why not?

4) Many experts have pointed to an increase in the time children spend playing video games and watching television and say that the lack of physical activity has contributed to childhood obesity. What do you think would help children be more physically active?

5) What percentage of children is obese and overweight in your state? Do research to see if your state has any initiatives to address childhood obesity. Write an essay describing what you find and propose your own program for improving the health of children in your state.


Adamy, Janet. "Tough New Rules Proposed on Food Advertising for Kids." Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2011,

Black, Jane. "First Lady Asks Foodmakers to Be on Front Line Tackling Childhood Obesity." Washington Post, March 16, 2010,

———. "Michelle Obama Applauds Food Industry Group's Pledge to Trim Calories." Washington Post, May 18, 2010,

Britt, David, and Lori Dorfman. "Who's for Kids and Who's Just Kidding?" The Hill, October 5, 2011,

"The Childhood Obesity Numbers." New York Times, June 2, 2008,

Crary, David. "Amid 'War on Obesity,' Skeptics Warn of Stigma." ABC News, May 1, 2011,

"First Lady Making Strides One Year into 'Let's Move.'" National Public Radio (NPR), February 10, 2011,

Frist, Bill. "Childhood Obesity Can Be Defeated." The Hill, September 20, 2011,

Givhan, Robin. "White House Task Force Issues Report on Fighting Childhood Obesity." Washington Post, May 12, 2010,

Jacobson, Michael. "With 'Healthy' Foods Like These, Who Needs Junk?" Huffington Post, September 29, 2011,

Katz, Diane. "The Diet Dictators' Attack on Consumer Choice and Free Speech." Heritage Foundation, August 29, 2011,

"Let's Move on Obese Kids." Washington Examiner, February 14, 2010,

Nestle, Marion. "Last Chance to Comment on Proposed Kids' Food Marketing Standards." Food Politics, July 14, 2011,

"Our View: Obesity Fight Will Take More than Industry Promises." Portland Press Herald, May 21, 2010,

Pecquet, Julian. "Food Industry Encouraged by Feds' Apparent Step Back on Kids' Marketing Restrictions." The Hill, September 28, 2011,

Sidhom, Eriene-Heidi. "Michelle Obama's 'Let's Move' Campaign." TuftScope, February 9, 2010,

Smith, Tammie. "Conference Explores Childhood Obesity Issues." Richmond Times-Dispatch, October 5, 2011,

Terry, Lee, and Paul Broun. "Terry and Broun: Nutritional Guidelines Are Nanny State Run Amok." Roll Call, September 21, 2011,

Tobak, Steve. "Nanny State Won't Fix Child Obesity." BNET, July 5, 2011,

Walsh, Sean Collins. "Big Retailers Make Pledge of Stores for 'Food Deserts.'" New York Times, July 20, 2011,

Additional Sources

Additional information about childhood obesity can be found in the following sources:

Jordan, Amy, ed. Overweight and Obesity in America's Children: Causes, Consequences, Solutions. Los Angeles, Calif.: SAGE Publications, 2008.

O'Dea, Jennifer, and Michael Eriksen, eds. Childhood Obesity Prevention: International Research, Controversies, and Interventions. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Contact Information

Information on how to contact organizations that either are mentioned in the discussion of childhood obesity or can provide additional information on the subject is listed below:

Center for Science in the Public Interest
1220 L Street, N.W.
Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20005
Telephone: (202) 332-9110

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, Ga. 30333
Telephone: (800) 232-4636

Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation
1025 Thomas Jefferson Street, N.W.
Suite 420 East
Washington, D.C. 20007
Telephone: (202) 558-4660

Key Words and Points

For further information about the ongoing debate over childhood obesity, search for the following words and terms in electronic databases and other publications:

Food deserts
Healthy Food Financing Initiative
IWG marketing guidelines
Let's Move!
National School Lunch Program

© 2018 Facts On File News Services

Modern Language Association (MLA)


"Childhood Obesity." Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services, 14 Nov. 2011. Web. 26 Apr. 2018. <>.

For further information see Citing Sources in MLA Style.

Facts On File News Services' automatically generated MLA citations have been updated according to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition.

American Psychological Association (APA)

Citation format:

The title of the article. (Year, Month Day). Retrieved Month Day, Year, from Issues & Controversies database.

See the American Psychological Association (APA) Style Citations for more information on citing in APA style.