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Report suggests local action to fight child obesity

(Reuters) - A new report from the U.S. Institute of Medicine suggests local governments adopt a mixture of taxes, incentives and new zoning policies to fight childhood obesity.

Here are some of the proposed actions in the report:

To encourage healthier eating:

* Use tax credits, grant and loan programs, small business and economic development programs to attract supermarkets and grocery stores to underserved neighborhoods.

* Realign public transportation to serve grocery stores and supermarkets.

* Use grants or loans to help small retailers buy refrigeration equipment to store fruits and vegetables.

* Require calorie information on restaurant menus. Offer incentives for restaurants that promote healthier options.

* Encourage farmers markets to accept food stamps and other vouchers.

* Tax soft drinks.

To encourage exercise:

* Adopt a pedestrian and bicycle master plan.

* Plan, build and maintain a network of sidewalks and street crossings.

* Plan, build and retrofit streets to reduce vehicle speeds, accommodate bicyclists, and encourage walking.

* Increase destinations within walking and bicycling distance.

* Collaborate with school districts and developers to build new schools within walking distance of homes.

* Adopt community policing strategies that improve safety of streets, especially in higher crime neighborhoods.

* Build and maintain parks and playgrounds that are safe and attractive.

* Improve access to public and private recreational facilities.

* Create after-school activity programs such as dance classes.

Editing by Todd Eastham

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