NEW YORK -- The National Action Against Obesity (NAAO) launched a year-long campaign to expel junk food from all U.S. day care, child care and preschool centers, beginning with the nation’s largest provider of child care services, the YMCA of the USA. The group kicked off its campaign in mid-April to coincide with the Y’s annual Healthy Kids Day and specifically targets the Y’s partnership with PepsiCo.

The group is asking for the YMCA of the USA to end its partnership with PepsiCo upon its expiration in 2010 and urging Y child care centers to commit to the long-term elimination of junk food, including food offered from on-site kitchens, vending machines and meal programs.

“While the YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day and Activate America campaigns are worthy initiatives, having one the world’s largest suppliers of soft drinks and foods of low nutritional value fund the events introduces a conflict of interest,” according to a statement from the NAAO.

According to NAAO, doctors, researchers and experts in child obesity, including Walter Willett of Harvard, David Katz of Yale, Barry Popkin of the University of North Carolina, Melissa Glassman of Columbia University, and Ruby Natale of the University of Miami, as well as actor and comedian Chevy Chase, have signed a petition supporting the cause. The organization is now calling for signatures from the public.