LOS ANGELES — There has been a “sea change” on obesity prevention and treatment in communities, on the policy side and in industry, according to Loel S. Solomon, PhD, MPP, community health vice president for Kaiser Permanente’s Community Benefit Program, who presented a keynote address during the ObesityWeek 2015 opening session.
“No longer do people see obesity as a failure of individual will,” Solomon said. “That change in the way the population is seeing the problem, as well as our policymakers, is reflected in a recent field poll that more than 80% of people believe there is positive role for the government to play in addressing obesity prevention.”
Loel S. Solomon
That is reflected in some recent major public policy wins in wellness and health intervention, he said.
Solomon also said there are positive industry trends. “Better for you food” is the fastest growing segment, although still a small segment. In addition, the Partnership for a Healthier America organization has brought the food and beverage sector together to make meaningful commitments. The Affordable Care Act also has brought preventive services to millions of people, according to Solomon.
“Most importantly, we are seeing for the first time, actual declines in the rates of obesity,” he said, but warned there are signs of some policy pushbacks and rate reductions that have not been as great in adults vs. children. He also added that food marketing is still a huge problem.
“Stopping where we are is not enough,” Solomon said.
Solomon described Kaiser Permanente’s “Dose,” which is an initiative that measures not only the reach of a community intervention, but also the strength of the strategy.
He presented this high “Dose” example: “Great that the school takes out unhealthy food in 50% of their vending machines, but a higher Dose strategy would be if they banned all of the junk food from all of the vending machines. It is higher still if we work on the cafeteria and ala carte options, but it is even better if we work with the corner stores that are across the street from the schools.”
Solomon said clinicians should work on intrinsic motivation with patients, noting that patients have complex issues that affect their health — emotional, quality of social relationships, work experience, financial security, child care, access to food and the neighborhoods in which they live. And these must also be addressed.
Citing successes in reduction of lead poisoning and smoking and seatbelt safety, Solomon said “the change that we seek is possible.”
Intervention is multifactorial, he said, and there are “no simple solutions, and you have to do all of them.” – by Joan-Marie Stiglich, ELS
Solomon LS. A whole person, whole community approach to obesity prevention and treatment. Presented at: ObesityWeek; Nov. 2-6, 2015; Los Angeles.
Disclosure: Solomon is an employee of Kaiser Permanente.