In collaboration with the Kansas Health Foundation (KHF), the IOM held the study’s first regional symposium in Wichita, Kansas on June 27–28, 2005. This first symposium focused on the specific IOM report recommendations for schools and stakeholders in the school setting to explore how to create a healthy school environment (Box 1).
The symposium was structured to include three plenary panels that focused on challenges and innovations for obesity prevention and school policies, school programs, and additional steps that can be taken by numerous stakeholders to overcome barriers to progress. Three break-out sessions focused on creating and strengthening linkages with other sectors to promote childhood obesity prevention including links between schools and home, community, and health care; links between schools and industry; and links between schools and the built environment (see program agenda). Overall, the symposium succeeded in providing a useful forum for stakeholders to explore viable strategies and exchange information about best practices and strategies for overcoming barriers through the plenary and break-out sessions.
This brief summary highlights the recurring themes for accelerating change and moving forward with obesity prevention efforts that emerged from the symposium: forge strategic partnerships; empower local schools and communities; educate stakeholders; evaluate obesity prevention efforts; document the benefits of obesity prevention; innovate to address barriers; use a systems approach; and develop a long-term strategic plan. In collaboration with RWJF and KHF, approximately 90 individuals active in childhood obesity prevention efforts in the Midwest and who represented a range of stakeholder perspectives and innovative practices in the school setting—including teachers, students, principals, health educators, dietitians, food service providers, industry representatives, state government, and community leaders—were invited to participate in the symposium, and the discussion focused on exploring the barriers and opportunities for sustaining and evaluating these efforts. The findings of this summary, along with those of two other symposia, and a more detailed discussion of insights and regional examples will be incorporated in the committee’s final report that will be released in 2006.
Much of the work in preventing childhood obesity currently takes place in a variety of environments—for instance, in a single school dis-