US and Hong Kong officials are exchanging ideas and strategies on how to tackle the obesity epidemic and promote good nutrition in developed societies. Eric Bost, undersecretary for agriculture, last week met policymakers and visited Tai Po Shun Tak Wong Kin Sheung Memorial School in the New Territories. A Hong Kong delegation of health and education representatives will visit California this autumn. 'They are acutely aware of the challenges they face with rates of obesity. There has been a great deal of discussion about what they want to do in Hong Kong to address this issue,' he said. During the school visit, Mr Bost spoke with students, parents, teachers and administrators about the importance of a healthy diet. Parents agreed with Mr Bost that they had a crucial role to play. 'Schools can issue pamphlets and provide nutritional information but the parents must help the children to eat healthily,' said Tsang Ho Wah-lin, a PTA member.Mr Bost emphasised the importance of unity in addressing the issue of obesity in children. 'It will take the co-operation of everyone: parents, schools, businesses, and government. It's got to be a concerted effort. To secure the long term welfare of children, everyone must come together,' he said. Mr Bost's department runs the National School Lunch Programme - the US effort to promote healthy food in schools. This offers schools reimbursements for meals that meet the dietary guidelines for Americans. But the programme faces stiff competition from the commercial sector. Schools often receive even more profit incentives from food companies, resulting in the continued prevalence of junk food and soft drinks. Mr Bost said parental concern could overcome the powerful junk food lobby. 'There has been an outcry from parents about providing healthy nutrition,' he said.