Halting the (Childhood) Obesity Epidemic – study trip to the US

14-19 October 2013

Our forthcoming one-week study program will focus on the worldwide problem of obesity.  As you are well aware, obesity is rising across the developed world and although no developed country has yet succeeded in reversing this trend, several cities have reported a decline in childhood obesity rates. Philadelphia and New York being the leaders in the United States.

To date, only Philadelphia has reported significant progress in closing the disparity gap, achieving significant declines in obesity rates among African-American males and Hispanic females and among students from lower-income families. New York has also reported a decrease, albeit smaller, in obesity rates among lower-income families.

We know that much effort has been placed at school-level; many schools have nurses on site, an increasing number of school districts have weight screening programs and the cities are implementing strong nutrition standards in schools

Our delegation, which will be led by Felix Cohen, Director of the Voedingscentrum, and will include members of the “Tweede Kamer”, as well as representatives from the ministries, industry and interest groups, will meet with the legislators, (state and federal) researchers, the medical community, consumer groups, the food industry and other key players and stakeholders, to examine what is behind the reported decline and look at some of the comprehensive action being taken to address the issue.

Among the topics to be addressed:

  • Are there policies at city level concerning obesogenic environment?
  • What is the policy of the government with regard to youth obesity, and what initiatives are being undertaken?
  • Is there a policy at school level, concerning educating children and adolescents about the advantages of healthy eating? And are the rules and regulations with regard to school lunches?
  • How are programs funded?
  • What is the evidence on the effectiveness of campaigns?
  • Have media campaigns helped to educate and reduce obesity?
  • What changes to food labeling could benefit the consumer?
  • What is the role and approach of the food industry?
  • What is the responsibility of the food industry? (advertising targeted towards children)
  • What are the priorities for nutrition research to reduce the levels of obesity in children?
  • Promotion of physical and nutritional education programs in schools?
  • Have media campaigns helped to educate and reduce obesity?
  • Are specific programs targeted towards the lower-social economic class?

The delegation will depart from Schiphol Airport to Philadelphia on Monday, October 14, 2013. The program will conclude in New York on Friday, October 18; the return flight arrives in Amsterdam early the following day.