Issue: June 2012
May 09, 2012
2 min read

IOM urges aggressive action plan, strategies to fight obesity

Issue: June 2012
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Despite promising new statistics, the United States is making slow strides in the battle against obesity, according to the Institute of Medicine Committee’s new report, “Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention — Solving the Weight of the Nation,” presented at the 2012 Weight of the Nation Conference.

According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), two-thirds of adults and nearly one-third of children in the United States are overweight or obese — a number that represents all ages, locations and socioeconomic class.

Additionally, the committee reported that an estimated 11% of adults have type 2 diabetes, and about 37% of adults are considered as having prediabetes.

“Even more worrisome, it is estimated that one-third of all children born today will develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime, and that includes half of Latino and black children,” said Daniel R. Glickman, chair for the committee on accelerating progress in obesity prevention at IOM.

“The costs to this are amazing. It costs the country an estimated $190 billion in obesity-related illnesses. That represents 20% of all health care spending, an estimated loss of $4.5 billion to businesses because of absenteeism and lack of productivity,” he said.

According to Glickman, there have been numerous promising interventions recommended and implemented in the United States during the past decade to combat the problem, but the progress has been slow.

“We’ve come a long way, but the fact of the matter is the problem is severe. We know in the last decade calorie consumption has gone up, portion sizes have increased and sugar-sweetened beverage consumption is much too high. At the same time, physical activity levels have decreased among kids and adults. And the sedentary activity has increased, due in part to many hours we spend in front of all types of screens, including modern social media,” Glickman said.

The report focuses on five critical goals to prevent obesity: 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.

Within the report, each goal is accompanied by recommendations and strategies for implementation, which cater to specific individuals, families and workplaces.

Other committee members, including vice-chair William Purcell III, called on government officials at the state and local level, communities, transportation officials and health professionals to provide increased public access to places that allow daily physical activity.

“This committee today says we need to do it all, and do it now, and it involves all of us,” Purcell said.

For more information:
  • Presented at: 2012 Weight of the Nation Conference: Institute of Medicine Report: Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention – Solving the Weight of the Nation; May 7-9, 2012; Washington, D.C.