highest, attributed in part to a lack of access to healthful foods, exposure to the marketing of less healthful foods and beverages, a paucity of safe or available venues for physical activity, and limited education about the benefits of proper nutrition and physical activity. Ethnic minorities that are at greatest risk for obesity and include African American, Hispanic, American Indians, and Asian/Pacific Islander children and youth, especially those living in low-income communities.
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 that contribute to childhood obesity and promising approaches for prevention efforts, the IOM released the report, Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance (IOM, 2005). This report identified promising strategies 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, the 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 conducting a study to assess progress toward the obesity prevention recommendations in the original report. 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 meetings 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 representatives including the food, beverage, restaurant, leisure, recreation, and entertainment industries. These three meetings will involve disseminating the findings and recommendations of the original IOM report and catalyzing dialogues that highlight best practices and identify assets and barriers to moving forward with obesity prevention efforts in each selected region.