President’s Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report and Action Plan

Posted by on May 24, 2010

The President’s Task Force on Childhood Obesity recently released its report and action plan to tackle childhood obesity. The report addresses five main strategies (early childhood, empowering parents and caregivers, healthy food in schools, access to health, affordable food, and increasing physical activity) and includes key recommendations and strategies related to land use, zoning, complete streets, food system planning and the built environment. The full report is available at

Recommendation 4.2: Local governments should be encouraged to create incentives to attract supermarkets and grocery stores to underserved neighborhoods and improve transportation routes to healthy food retailers. (page 54)

Incentives could include tax credits, grant and loan programs, and small business or economic development programs. Communities could also develop zoning requirements that create safe, non-motorized routes such as sidewalks, pedestrian malls, and bicycle paths between all neighborhoods and supermarkets, grocery stores, or other retailers who sell healthy food.216 Local communities can also commit job training resources to ensure that a well-trained workforce is available for healthy food retailers who are considering locating in their area.

Recommendation 4.4: Encourage communities to promote efforts to provide fruits and vegetables in a variety of settings and encourage the establishment and use of direct–to-consumer marketing outlets such as farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture subscriptions. (page 54)

Options that communities could consider include the following…Use land use policies to promote, expand, and protect potential sites for community gardens and farmers’ markets such as vacant city-owned land or unused parking lots…Consider the adoption of ordinances or by-laws that promote healthy food vendors and mobile fruit and vegetable vendors in low-income and geographically isolated neighborhoods.

Recommendation 5.8: Reauthorize a Surface Transportation Act that enhances livability and physi­cal activity. A complete network of safe bicycle and pedestrian facilities would allow children to take more trips through active transportation and get more physical activity. (page 81)

New Federal aid construction projects should accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians by incorporating “Complete Streets” principles. As improvement projects for existing facilities are undertaken, transportation infrastructure should be retrofitted, where feasible, to support and encourage bicycle and pedestrian use. State and local money can also be leveraged to support safe facilities for children to walk or bike to places like parks, playgrounds, transit, and community centers. The reauthorization could adopt Complete Streets principles that would include routine accommodation of walkers and bicyclists for new construction, to influence retrofitting of existing communities, and to support public transportation. In addition, it could enhance authority for recreational areas on public lands.

Sidebar on Land Use and Food System Planning (page 53)

Many communities have had an opportunity to promote access to fresh foods and urban agriculture as a component of their land-use and food system planning processes. Across the country, projects are helping to create, enable, and fund community garden and urban agriculture programs, and developing zoning and permitting processes friendly to urban agriculture and healthy food access.

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