designed to prevent obesity in infancy and early childhood by promoting healthy early environments in settings outside the home where young children spend substantial time.1


Given growing evidence on the importance of the early years for later health outcomes, the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) Standing Committee on Childhood Obesity Prevention recommended a study to examine the evidence and provide guidance on obesity prevention policies for young children from birth to age 5. The Committee on Obesity Prevention Policies for Young Children was formed to conduct this study. See Box S-1 for the committee’s full statement of task.

The committee formulated its recommendations using the best evidence available, including both direct and indirect evidence about the likely impact of a given policy on reducing childhood obesity. The committee reviewed the published literature; examined reports from organizations that work with young children; invited presentations from experts on a range of scientific, programmatic, and policy issues related to children from birth to age 5; and explored a variety of materials that have been developed for programs and practitioners. The committee gave strong observational studies serious consideration and was also receptive to evidence that a policy would be likely to affect a determinant of childhood obesity even if not yet studied for its direct influence on obesity. Thus, for example, the committee recommends policy changes that are expected to increase physical activity or promote more healthy eating in children because such intermediate outcomes are themselves associated with prevention of childhood obesity. The committee also drew on the extensive experience and expertise of its members in child development, obesity prevention, child health, nutrition, infant development, physical activity, pediatrics, child psychology and behavior, child care regulations and policy, food marketing and media, health disparities, family health, federal and state children’s programs, and community health.

In addition to formulating policy recommendations, the committee identified potential actions that could be taken to implement those recommendations. These actions lie within the purview of relevant decision makers, were determined to be actionable based on a combination of precedent and committee members’


1In this report, the term “young children” refers to ages birth to 5 years.

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