New Reports Illustrate Obesity Epidemic and 5 Goals to Stop It

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • There’s been a lot of talk during the past few years about the number of Americans who are overweight or obese. Now two new reports have been released give a new view not only of where we are, but where we’re going and how we as a nation can stop this growing trend.

    The first report, which is by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lays out the current situation related to obesity and projects what we as a country have in store. As reported by, the CDC report projects that by 2030, 42 percent of American adults will be obese. That’s an increase of 8 percent from today’s figures. In addition, 11 percent will be severely obese in 2030, which is a five percent increase over today’s figures. Currently, one-third of American adults are overweight while one-third of children between the ages of 2 and 19 are also considered overweight or obese.

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    The second report, which is by The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, provides a blueprint for what we need to do to change this trajectory. The committee that developed the report analyzed over 800 obesity prevention recommendations in order to identify those that would work as part of an integrated effort to accelerate obesity prevention.

    The report offers five key goals, along with recommendations and strategies. These include:

    1.    Make physical activity an integral part of the daily routine. The committee recommended that communities and buildings be designed to be conducive to increased physical activity. The committee also recommends that communities create programs that are designed to increase physical activity. These can include developing strategies that plug into social networks in order to build a network committed to physical activity. The committee also encourages policies and programs that will encourage more physical activity in child care and early childhood education programs. The members also recommend that support be provided to translate the findings of researchers about physical activities into best-practice applications.

    2.    Encourage an environment that promotes consumption of healthy foods and beverages. The committee encouraged organizations to decrease unhealthy food/beverage options as well as to increase healthier food and beverage options that are affordably priced. The members also called for new policies and practices that would reduce the overconsumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. Another recommendation involves increasing the availability of lower-calorie, healthier food and beverage options for children at restaurants. The committee also recommended that all foods sold or provided through the government should be aligned with strong nutritional standards. Another recommendation involves introducing retailing and distribution policies that promote healthy foods and beverages. This would also enhance the quality of available food, especially to underserved neighborhoods. Committee members also recommended broadening the examination of agriculture policy in the United States so that implications for the American diet (and obesity) are considered.

  • 3.    Develop meaningful messages about physical activity and nutrition. The committee’s recommendations include developing a sustained and targeted social marketing program advocating physical activity and nutrition as well as the creation of common standards of how to market foods and beverages to adolescents and children. Additionally, the members encouraged federal programs that have nutrition education components to have consistent policies governing those components.

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    4.    The role of health care providers, insurers and employers should be expanded in relation to obesity prevention.  The committee encourages health care providers to provide standardized care and to advocate for healthy community environments. Additionally, public and private insurers should make sure they provide “coverage of, access to, and incentives for routine obesity prevention, screen, diagnosis, and treatment,” the report’s authors wrote. Worksites also are encouraged to create active living opportunities and healthy eating options at the workplace. The committee also called for health service providers and employers to encourage healthy weight gain during pregnancy and breastfeeding, as well as to promote breast-feeding –friendly environments.

    5.    Schools should be a national focal point for obesity prevention. The committee encouraged schools to required quality physical education as well as opportunities for physical activity. They also advocated for strong nutritional standards for all foods and beverages that are sold or provided through schools. The members also called for students to learn about food and nutrition through the curriculum.

    I applaud the IOM for creating this well-thought-out report, and hope that you will encourage your community, state and federal leaders to embrace these goals and recommendations.


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    Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. (May 2012). Accelerating progress in obesity prevention: Solving the weight of the nation.

Published On: May 08, 2012

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