“We need to start thinking about the obesity crisis as more than a failure of personal will. It’s really an issue where everybody, rather than thinking about blame, everybody has to take responsibility for solving it.” – Dr. Judith Salerno
A new study published by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM) was released last week during the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2nd “Weight of the Nation” Conference in Washington, D.C. The report, Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation, was spearheaded by the IOM’s Committee on Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention and supported by a tremendous amount of inquiry and analysis. It aims to promote a systems-based and environmentally focused approach to fighting obesity rather than an individualistic, personal-will view that for so long has failed to tackle the underlying, yet fundamental effects of unhealthy weigh gain among the American population.
The report provides an insightful and research-based view of the progression of the obesity epidemic in America and outlines goals, system-change strategies, and community-focused actions aimed at transforming the way we eat, exercise, and think about health. As stated in the report:
Traditionally, obesity has been blamed on the failure of individuals to exercise personal responsibility. In addition, this view has been used as the basis for resisting government efforts – legislative and regulatory – to address the problem. […Personal responsibility can be embraced as a value by expanding its meaning to include such actions as improved school nutrition, menu labeling, changes in industry marketing practices, and even such controversial measures as taxes on foods and beverages that lead to the choice of healthier items. Such an approach could bridge the divide between views based on individual versus collective responsibility. This train of thought argues for making obesity prevention a political priority that reestablishes the responsibility of the country…]. The responsibility for implementing these changes is one that must be shared. Engagement and leadership across all levels and sectors of the population will be powerful vehicles for bringing about environmental and behavioral changes…] (1).
In addition, the report dives deep into the environments where the biggest impacts can be made, including: physical activity environments, food and beverage environments, messaging environments, health care and work environments, and school environments. The report states that institutionalizing changes in these five environments will, “have the greatest potential reach and impact on preventing obesity, based on research evidence and the current level of progress in each area…] (2)” The following five environment-based recommendations serve as the foundation of the report and as catalysts for community action:
1. Communities, transportation officials, community planners, health professionals, and governments should make promotion of physical activity a priority by substantially increasing access to places and opportunities for such activity.
2. Governments and decision makers in the business community/private sector should make a concerted effort to reduce unhealthy food and beverage options and substantially increase healthier food and beverage options at affordable, competitive prices.
3. Industry, educators, and governments should act quickly, aggressively, and in a sustained manner on many levels to transform the environment that surrounds Americans with messages about physical activity, food, and nutrition.
4. Health care and health service providers, employers, and insurers should increase the support structure for achieving better population health and obesity prevention.
5. Federal, state and local government and education authorities, with support from parents, teachers, and the business community and the private sector, should make schools a focal point for obesity prevention.
To learn more about the report, the five recommendations, and hundreds of actionable steps you can bring to your community, view and/or download Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation for free via the IOM’s website.
What are your thoughts, concerns, or comments on the five recommendations? What actions and/or sections of the IOM report do you think will resonate best in your community? Why? We’d love to hear your thoughts – click the bubble above the video or the Leave a Reply link below!
Did You Know?
Burger King recently began selling the “NY Pizza Burger.” It has 2.530 calories, it is four times the size of a Whopper, and it can be purchased as a “Value Meal” with fries and a soda, effectively infusing your body with well over 3,000 calories in just one sitting (3)!