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Improve Children's Nutrition Health with Consistent Messages and Environmental Support: Position of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


Media Contacts: Ryan O'Malley, Allison MacMunn
800/877-1600, ext. 4769, 4802

CHICAGO – Consistent messages, effective policies and environmental support in all places where children live, study and play can improve their diet and physical activity habits and help children achieve and maintain a healthy weight, according to an updated position paper of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The Academy's position paper, "Interventions for the Prevention and Treatment of Pediatric Overweight and Obesity," has been published in the October issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is available on the Academy's website. The position paper provides guidance and recommendations for levels of intervention targeting overweight and obesity prevention and treatment from preschool through adolescence.

The Academy's position is:

It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that prevention and treatment of pediatric overweight and obesity require systems-level approaches that include the skills of registered dietitians, as well as consistent and integrated messages and environmental support across all sectors of society to achieve sustained dietary and physical activity behavior change.

The position paper recommends ways in which registered dietitian nutritionists can help consumers achieve healthy weights for their children, including:

  • Education programs that teach people food planning, purchasing and preparation; parenting practices; and environmental changes to make healthy food and activity choices easier.
  • Educational and environmental interventions that promote and support sustainable healthy lifestyles.
  • Treatment to help overweight and obese youth achieve a healthier weight, be more fit and improve overall health. These should involve family members, be appropriate for the child’s age and culture, and include nutrition education and strategies to improve eating habits and physical activity.

Treatment of childhood overweight and obesity should emphasize sustained family-based, developmentally and culturally appropriate approaches that include nutrition education, dietary counseling, parenting skills, behavioral strategies and physical activity promotion, according to the Academy. Registered dietitian nutritionists and dietetic technicians, registered should be an integral part of research studies, as well as treatment teams, to guarantee the best possible outcomes for children.

The Academy's position paper was written by registered dietitian nutritionists Deanna M. Hoelscher, the John P. McGovern professor of health promotion/behavioral sciences and director of the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, University of Texas School of Public Health; Shelley Kirk, associate professor and director of HealthWorks! at The Heart Institute, The Center for Better Health and Nutrition, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center Cincinnati, Ohio; Lorrene Ritchie, director of research, Atkins Center for Weight and Health, University of California – Berkeley; and Leslie Cunningham-Sabo, associate professor in the department of food science and human nutrition, Colorado State University.

Position Paper: Abstract


All registered dietitians are nutritionists – but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. The Academy's Board of Directors and Commission on Dietetic Registration have determined that those who hold the credential registered dietitian (RD) may optionally use "registered dietitian nutritionist" (RDN) instead. The two credentials have identical meanings.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at