Encouraging a wide variety of nutrition choices and a greater emphasis on physical education will bring about workable solutions to health challenges facing young people, said the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) at a state-sponsored "healthy school" summit. The two-day conference allowed educators, health experts, lawmakers, and state officials to explore solutions to rising concerns over childhood obesity and inactivity in California.

"Recently proposed federal Dietary Guidelines offer Americans practical yet flexible advice to promote better nutrition and health without grasping for simplistic solutions to complex issues," said Lisa Katic, a registered dietitian and GMA Director, Scientific and Nutrition Policy. "We need to focus our efforts on building bridges between various stakeholders interested in promoting healthy lifestyles. Finding common ground is common sense.

"We also need to put physical activity back into play," said Katic. "For the first time, the Dietary Guidelines give a higher priority to encouraging greater physical activity. Indeed, we need to see regular physical activity made a part of every child's school day."

Katic pointed to a new statement released by the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports bemoaning the "epidemic of physical activity among our nation's youth." The Council urges school districts to make daily, quality physical education part of their core curriculums.

"The President's Council correctly notes that the teaching of physical education is now greatly diminished or non-existent," said Katic. "The food industry is playing a role in contributing time, money, and innovative ideas to address this public health challenge. These efforts include partnerships with schools, community athletic groups, and non-profit organizations to encourage greater participation in recreational sports and promote increased physical activity.

"We need to avoid unscientific attacks on specific categories of foods. This approach detracts from meaningful efforts to address issues such as obesity, malnutrition, and physical inactivity."

GMA is the world's largest association of food, beverage and consumer product companies. With U.S. sales of more than $460 billion, GMA members employ more than 2.5 million workers in all 50 states. The organization applies legal, scientific and political expertise from its member companies to vital food, nutrition and public policy issues affecting the industry. Led by a board of 44 Chief Executive Officers, GMA speaks for food and consumer product manufacturers at the state, federal and international levels on legislative and regulatory issues. The association also leads efforts to increase productivity, efficiency and growth in the food, beverage and consumer products industry.

CONTACT: Lance Hastings, 916-447-9425; or Brian Sansoni, 202-337-9400 ext. 3957, both of the Grocery Manufacturers of America, for more information.