The American Medical Association on Wednesday put its weight behind requiring yearly instruction aimed at preventing obesity for public schoolchildren and teens.
The nation’s largest physicians group agreed to support legislation that would require classes in causes, consequences and prevention of obesity for first through 12th graders. Doctors will be encouraged to volunteer their time to help with that under the new policy adopted on the final day of the AMA’s annual policymaking meeting.
Another new policy adopted Wednesday says the AMA supports the idea of using revenue from taxes on sugar-sweetened sodas as one way to help pay for obesity-fighting programs. But the group stopped short of fully endorsing such taxes.
Some doctors think soda taxes would disproportionately hurt the poor and disadvantaged. Others said taxes shouldn’t be used to force people to make healthful decisions they should be making on their own.
Doctors at the meeting shared sobering statistics and personal stories in urging the AMA to sharpen its focus on obesity prevention.
“I can’t tell you the number of 40-pound 1-year-olds I see every day,” Dr. Melissa Garretson, a Stephensville, Texas pediatrician, told the delegates before Wednesday’s vote. She said requiring obesity education “is a great idea.”