It seems clear that powerful interests have killed any chance of a meaningful policy on attacking childhood obesity by re-framing efforts as "taxes", attacks on personal freedom or even as bullying against kids. Even the First Lady saw the scale and scope of her efforts greatly diminished as conservatives heaped public ridicule on it (heaven forbid kids should be healthy and learn how to stay healthy as adults) and agribusiness fought back within the White House.
The issues won't go away and the problem of obesity and it's impact on long term health and short term body image remain - infact the scale of the problem is probably underestimated. In light of is it is meaningful to ask what does work? What can be implemented by communities that are more enlightened and, assuming resources are limited, what is the most effectives use of money.
During today's workout I caught some answers on the Rudd Center podcast. Kelly Brownell interviews Steven Gortmaker of The Harvard School of Public Health. (15 minute mp3) Gortmaker's area of specialization is public policy for obesity and and the analysis of the cost effectiveness of various programs. He offers some high level recommendations of high bang for the buck programs and is worth tracking down if you need deeper information. Low hanging fruit includes a focus on kids, taxing of sugared drinks, removing the corporate tax deductions on marketing that targets selling unhealthy food to children (I bet you didn't know these could be written off), and removing sugared drinks from schools. Admitedly these are modest beginnings, but they are beginnings and have been shown to be very cost effective.
Of course there are many other things that can be done and there is no reason why people can't make changes at the personal level, but moving the country in a healthly direction - even if only in small bits - would be great.