Addressing childhood obesity ‘like playing whack-a-mole’

Childhood obesity rates continue to rise in the U.S., despite some modest progress toward getting kids to eat healthier school lunches and consume fewer sugary drinks. Erica Kenney, assistant professor of public health nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a September 13, 2019 Huffington Post article that children gain excess weight for a variety of reasons. These include the ubiquity of unhealthy food, genetics, and a lack of safe places to play outside.

“Addressing childhood obesity is absolutely like playing whack-a-mole,” she said. “There are so many pieces to this, so many factors that are cultural, environmental, political, and systemic. You target one or two pieces of it and then 10 more take its place. Obviously, everyone wants healthier kids. But no one has yet come up with the best strategy to make that happen.”

Speaking in the same article, Sara Bleich, professor of public health policy, highlighted two policies that she believes would help reduce the nation’s childhood obesity rates: a national soda tax and restricting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits from being used to purchase sugary drinks and candy.

Read the Huffington Post article: This Is Why The U.S. Is Failing To Tackle Childhood Obesity

Learn more

Comprehensive national strategy needed to curb childhood obesity (Harvard Chan School news)

Living near combination grocery stores linked with obesity in children (Harvard Chan School news)