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Weight of the Nation 2012

I am delighted to be at the 2012 Weight of The Nation Conference in Washington DC sponsored by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The purpose of this important conference is to bring together policy makers, educators, health professionals, media, and public health leaders to share key obesity prevention priorities and to present policy and environmental approaches that show promise for improving the nation’s health. The theme,” Moving Forward, Reversing the Trend,” is illustrated through informative and thought provoking presentations emphasizing how we can work together to promote healthy eating and active living for all Americans.

This morning,  in the presence of a huge crowd, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released its latest report Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation . It focuses on five critical goals for preventing obesity:

— Integrating physical activity into people’s lives

— Making healthy foods and beverages available everywhere

— Transforming marketing messages about nutrition and activity

— Galvanizing health care professionals and employers to support healthy living

— Making schools a gateway for healthy weights

Several members of the committee highlighted specific strategies and obesity prevention recommendations to identify how we can work together most effectively in our communities to reduce the nation’s obesity crisis.

This report is released at an important time as the obesity epidemic is a major public health crisis and the food environment is not conducive to weight loss for most of us. Food is available 24-7, portion sizes are huge, and the food industry spends mega bucks marketing sugar, fat, and calorie laden junk food.

At the conference’s opening plenary on Monday morning, the CDC in conjunction with Duke University and RTI International released a new paper just published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on obesity forecasts through 2030. The forecasting study found that 42% of the US population could be obese by 2030, suggesting that our healthcare system could be burdened with 32 million more obese individuals within just two decades. According to the researchers, action is needed to keep rates from increasing further.

For the good news, the report found that keeping obesity rates level could save nearly $550 billion over two decades. Hopefully, this thought provoking conference will inspire its attendees to work together to reverse the obesity epidemic. The action steps highlighted throughout the conference will hopefully help us speed up the progress to combat the current obesity crisis.

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