June 20, 2012

Senate Passes Manchin Measure to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Amendment to Farm Bill would require first-ever nutritional guidelines for children ages 0-2

Washington, D.C. – A bipartisan amendment offered by U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to help children develop healthy eating habits passed the Senate moments ago with unanimous support from his colleagues. The amendment, co-sponsored by Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), would require the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture to develop, implement and promote national dietary guidelines for pregnant women and children between the ages zero and 2. No such standards exist currently. 

“We already make these recommendations for Americans ages 2 and older, and it only makes sense that we would pass this amendment to fill the gap in standards that currently exists,” Senator Manchin said. 

“The food we give our children is so important in their formative years, and even before they are born. We need these guidelines in place to help people make important decisions about nutrition in the critical years of a child’s life. This amendment will help keep our kids healthy and strong, and prevent obesity and childhood illnesses as they grow older.”

Every five years, the USDA and HHS jointly publish the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines provide evidence-based nutrition information intended to promote good health and reduce the risk of obesity and chronic diseases for Americans ages 2 and older. These guidelines serve as the basis for federal nutrition policy, education, outreach, and food assistance programs. They are also used by consumers, industry, nutrition educators and health professionals. 

The Manchin amendment is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association. 


According to the Trust for America’s Health, the average obesity rate in West Virginia for adults from 2008-2010 was 32.2 percent, the third highest in the nation. During that same time, the rate of diabetes in West Virginia was 12 percent, the second highest in the nation. In 2007, the obesity rate among children was 18.9 percent, the 10th highest in the nation.