Weight of the Nation
According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), two-thirds of adults and one-third of children are overweight or obese. Left unchecked, obesity’s effects on health, health care costs, and our productivity as a nation could become catastrophic. The staggering human toll of obesity-related chronic disease and disability, and an annual cost of $190.2 billion for treating obesity-related illness, underscore the urgent need to strengthen prevention efforts in the United States.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation asked the IOM to identify catalysts that could speed progress in obesity prevention. The IOM evaluated prior obesity prevention strategies and identified recommendations to meet the following goals and accelerate progress. On their own, accomplishing any one of these might help speed up progress in preventing obesity, but together, their effects will be reinforced, amplified and maximized.
- Integrate physical activity every day in every way.
Make physical activity an integral and routine part of life.
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.
- Make healthy foods and beverages available everywhere.
Create food and beverage environments that ensure that healthy food and beverage options are the routine, easy choice.
Governments and decision makers in the business community/private sector1 should make a concerted effort to reduce unhealthy food and beverage options and substantially increase healthier food and beverage options at affordable, competitive prices.
- Market what matters for a healthy life.
Transform messages about physical activity and nutrition.
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.
- Activate employers and health care professionals.
Expand the role of health care providers, insurers, and employers in obesity prevention.
Health care and health service providers, employers, and insurers should increase the support structure for achieving better population health and obesity prevention.
- Strengthen schools as the heart of health.
Make schools a national focal point for obesity prevention.
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.