Dispatch: White House Task Force Hops on Activist Bandwagon

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The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, established in accordance with first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” anti-obesity campaign, has released a report outlining suspected causes of childhood obesity and strategies on how best to address it. In addition to reliable advice about nutrition, food availability, and physical activity, the report also contains ominous references to the dangers of “endocrine disruptors” and chemicals in plastic containers.

[I]t is possible that developmental exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) or other chemicals plays a role in the development of diabetes and childhood obesity. … An increased understanding of chemical toxicity also adds strength to the existing recommendations for parents to avoid microwaving baby bottles or plastic containers … Government should work closely with industries to translate this emerging science into programs that supports product reformulation (for example, of plastic containers) as appropriate.

“We’ve talked a lot about Michelle Obama making childhood obesity a priority as first lady,” says ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. “It’s a good cause, and until now she has been advocating pretty classic notions of exercise and better food choices, so we can’t argue with that. However, I am appalled and distressed to see the references to environmental chemicals as a cause of obesity.”

ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross agrees: “Her obesity outreach is welcome to the extent that it conforms to the sound science of nutrition and fundamentals of caloric energy and metabolism. But when it strays into anti-chemical dogma such as these references to ‘EDCs’ and the dangers of microwaving plastic containers, based on junk science or no science at all, she has wandered far afield from her expertise and lost sight of her stated goal, which was supposedly to help counter America’s obesity problem. Plastic bottles do not contribute to obesity, and such statements are a distraction from the real potential solutions contained in the rest of the report.”