WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Make the right food choices a no-brainer -- and America's kids will be fitter. That's the message coming out of a new study by the Institute of Medicine.
The report says local governments can do a lot more to ensure smart food choices - without playing 'big brother.'
In one inner-city Washington neighborhood ... grocery shopping choices are limited. And though Norma Jean Berry tries to find healthy food ... convenience often wins outs.
"Sometimes we have to shop in the CVS and the Seven-Eleven," Berry said.
A new report says the nation is struggling with a childhood obesity epidemic, and where you live might well affect your child's waistline.
"In many instances, government, including local government has made the default choice the unhealthy choice," Dr. Antronette Yancey said.
"We want the healthy choice to be the easy choice," Dr. Eduardo Sanchez with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas said.
The Institute of Medicine is advising local governments on how to fight fat. Strategies like using taxes and zoning laws to keep fast food away from schools and pushing supermarkets and restaurants to provide healthier choices.
New York has launched an ad campaign targeting soft drinks. Chicago just hiked taxes on soft drinks and candy.
The report also suggests cities build more bike paths and parks making it easier for residents to walk and exercise.
"This is about culture change ultimately," said Dr. Adewale Troutman Director of the Louisville Metro Health Department. "We've gotten ourselves into a culture that's fast-foodism,
that's instant gratification, that's lack of physical activity."
Somerville, Massachusetts Mayor Joseph Curtatone says government has been part of the problem for too long.
"You look in neighborhoods that don't have access to open space, don't have access to transit - neighborhoods aren't safe -- we wouldn't address those issues. that is a failure of policy," Curtatone said.
The bottom line -- changing environments may change lives -- for the better.