WASHINGTON -- The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity issued a blueprint Tuesday that's thick with ideas but doesn't put the hammer down yet on taxpayers or private industry.
A national soda tax? Worth further study, but not this year. New regulatory authority over food marketing to children, or changes to agricultural subsidies to make fresh fruit and vegetables cheaper? Possibilities down the road, but why not first encourage more voluntary steps by the private sector?
The 124-page report from the task force that President Barack Obama created three months ago contains 70 recommendations for turning around the national obesity epidemic. But it looks to current regulatory authority, more federal spending and research -- and public persuasion. It pushes the more politically divisive options down the road to unspecified dates.
One in five U.S. children today is obese. Experts worry that's straining the health care system and eventually will weaken the U.S. military. The task force's primary stated goal is to bring the child obesity rate back to 1 in 20 by 2030, as it was in 1970.
First lady Michelle Obama, the public face of the administration's "Let's Move" anti- obesity campaign, said the report creates "a very solid road map that we need to make these goals real, to solve this problem within a generation. Now we just need to follow through with the plan. We just need everyone to do their part."
Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, said the plan embodies the idea that regulation is "the last thing you want to do," only after other means are exhausted.