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U.S. Congress Continues to Wobble on Childhood Obesity

Last year, I told you about the conundrum many poorer public school districts have with the foods their cafeterias prepare, always balancing a fine line between nutrition and profitability, unfortunately, with the latter often winning. The USDA's proposed farm bill may improve the situation somewhat.

Finally addressing the sorry state of food prepared in school cafeterias, the federal agency has considered requiring schools to meet the latest dietary guidelines spelled out in the most recent food pyramid approved almost two years ago, calling for more fruits and vegetables (good things) and whole grains and nonfat dairy products (very bad things) in a child's daily diet.

One initiative would expand a pilot program -- currently used in 17 states -- to provide free fruit and vegetable snacks to students. Since only 20 percent of Americans eat two cups of fruit a day, and kids under age 18 consume at most half as much as federal guidelines recommend, anything would be an improvement. Unfortunately, that takes money and political will both of which are in short supply in Washington, despite the rampant epidemic of childhood obesity we see every day.

Truth is, the problem with childhood obesity is so grave, you can't expect the government to do anything about it. That's why I urge you to take matters into your own hands starting today. Pay close attention to all the danger signs, and assume responsibility for the obesity epidemic in your own home.

Washington Post April 7, 2007