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The problem of obesity in the U.S. is so complex that a “bold, sustained, and comprehensive” approach is needed.
With action occurring at all levels – individual, family, community, and the broader society — according to a new report released by the Institute of Medicine at the CDC’s “Weight of the Nation” conference.
The report, “Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention,” is organized around five goals:
1) make physical activity an integral and routine part of life;
2) create food and beverage environments that ensure that healthy food and beverage options are the routine, easy choice;
3) transform messages about physical activity and nutrition;
4) expand the roles of health care providers, insurers, and employers; and
5) make schools a national focal point for obesity prevention.
Some specific strategies include requiring at least 60 minutes of physical education and activities in schools per day, making sure that healthy food is available at all places frequented by the public, addressing the built environment to increase opportunities for physical activity, and engaging the food, beverage, restaurant, and media industries to take voluntary action to improve food and beverage marketing to children – but if voluntary action fails the government should consider setting mandatory rules.
The strategies and action steps in the report were developed to support individuals’ and family’s abilities to make healthy choices. “People have a tough time achieving healthy weights when inactive lifestyles are the norm and inexpensive, high-calorie foods and drinks are readily available 24 hours a day,” says committee chair Dan Glickman. “Individuals and groups can’t solve this complex problem alone, and that’s why we recommend changes that can work together at the societal level and reinforce one another’s impact to speed our progress,” he says.