Cincinnati is expanding its Task Force on Healthy Living to include several organizations. The newest members represent the public schools, the city's parks and recreation departments and the soft drink industry.
Council Member Wendell Young chairs the task force.
“In approaching an issue as complex and significant as the lives and health of our children, I find it imperative that we bring together all those with the power to make a difference,” said Young. “I am thrilled to have the participation of such dedicated and talented members of our community, and I am confident that this collaboration can make significant strides to improve health in our city—particularly the health of our children.”
The expansion follows a May report that found two-thirds of adults are obese or overweight and almost one-third of children are as well.
Young expects the task force to hold its first meeting in about a month.
Cincinnati Public School Superintendent Mary Ronan said school officials are doing their part with healthier lunch choices in the cafeteria. But that doesn't mean kids won't find pizza on the menu.
“However, the crust is whole grain, the cheese is low fat and the sauce is low sodium,” Ronan said. “And we balance out that menu with two servings of fruit, a steamed vegetable, a salad bar and skim milk.”
Kimberly McConnville is the executive director of the Ohio Soft Drink Association. She said the group has been involved in schools for several years and that included making some voluntary industry guidelines into state law.
“That actually removed all full calorie soft drinks from Ohio schools and schools nationwide,” McConnville said. “We just got our latest report on what that means calorie wise and that was a 90 percent reduction in beverage calories shipped to schools between 2004 and 2010.”
The task force is studying ways to reduce the number of overweight or obese adults and children in Cincinnati.
That includes things like making schools a national focal point for obesity prevention, reducing unhealthy food and beverage options and making physical activity an integral and routine part of life.