of access to healthful foods, a paucity of safe or available venues for physical activity, and a lack of education about proper nutrition and the benefits of physical activity. Minority children and youth are at greatest risk for obesity, especially African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, and Asians/Pacific Islanders living in low-income communities throughout the nation.
In 2002, Congress charged the Institute of Medicine (IOM) with developing a prevention-focused action plan to reduce the number of obese children and youth in the United States. After analyzing the behavioral, social, cultural, and other environmental factors involved in childhood obesity and promising approaches for prevention efforts, the IOM released the report, Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance (IOM, 2005), which identified promising approaches for obesity prevention efforts and put forth a set of recommendations for a variety of stakeholders and sectors to implement obesity prevention strategies for government, industry, communities, schools, and home. The IOM committee developed its recommendations based on the best available evidence at the time by integrating information from the obesity prevention literature, dietary and physical activity literature, and parallel evidence from other public health issues with an emphasis on and commitment to evaluate promising obesity prevention interventions.
In 2005, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the IOM is building on its previous work by initiating a study to assess progress in childhood obesity prevention efforts. The IOM, through its Food and Nutrition Board, has appointed a 13-member multidisciplinary committee with expertise in child health, obesity, nutrition, physical activity, food industry, community-based evaluation, public health, and public policy to conduct the study. In 2005, the committee organized three regional symposia in the midwest, southeastern, and western United States to galvanize obesity prevention efforts of local, state, and national decision-makers, community and school leaders, grassroots organizations, and industry—including the food, beverage, restaurant, leisure, and entertainment industries. These three symposia involved disseminating the findings and recommendations of the original IOM report; catalyzing dialogues that highlight promising practices for schools, communities, and industry; and identifying assets and barriers to move forward with obesity prevention efforts in these sectors and selected regions.
In collaboration with the Healthcare Georgia Foundation, the committee held its second regional symposium in Atlanta, Georgia on