Goals of Obesity Prevention in Children and Youth

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The goal of obesity prevention in children and youth is to create—through directed social change—an environmental-behavioral synergy that promotes:

• For the population of children and youth

♦ Reduction in the incidence of childhood and adolescent obesity

♦ Reduction in the prevalence of childhood and adolescent obesity

♦ Reduction of mean population BMI levels

♦ Improvement in the proportion of children meeting the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

♦ Improvement in the proportion of children meeting physical activity guidelines

♦ Achieving physical, psychological, and cognitive growth and developmental goals

• For individual children and youth

♦ A healthy weight trajectory, as defined by the CDC BMI charts

♦ A healthful diet (quality and quantity)

♦ Appropriate amounts and types of physical activity

♦ Achieving physical, psychosocial, and cognitive growth and developmental goals

Because it may take a number of years to achieve and sustain these goals, intermediate goals are needed to assess progress toward reduction of obesity through policy and system changes. Examples include:

• Increased number of children who safely walk and bike to school

• Improved access to and affordability of fruits and vegetables for low-income populations

• Increased availability and use of community recreational facilities

• Increased play and physical activity opportunities

• Increased number of new industry products and advertising messages that promote energy balance at a healthy weight

• Increased availability and affordability of healthful foods and beverages at supermarkets, grocery stores, and farmers markets located within walking distance of the communities they serve

• Changes in institutional and environmental policies that promote energy balance mate aim of obesity prevention in children and youth, however, is to create, through directed social change, an environmental-behavioral synergy that promotes positive outcomes both at the population and individual levels. Box 3-1 summarizes these long-term and intermediate goals, which will be discussed in greater detail throughout the report.

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