BOX 6-1

Recommendations for Communities from the 2005 IOM report, Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance

Community Programs

Local governments, public health agencies, schools, and community organizations should collaboratively develop and promote programs that encourage healthful eating behaviors and regular physical activity, particularly for populations at high risk of childhood obesity. Community coalitions should be formed to facilitate and promote crosscutting programs and community-wide efforts.

To implement this recommendation:

  • Private and public efforts to eliminate health disparities should include obesity prevention as one of their primary areas of focus and should support community-based collaborative programs to address social, economic, and environmental barriers that contribute to the increased obesity prevalence among certain populations.

  • Community child- and youth-centered organizations should promote healthful eating behaviors and regular physical activity through new and existing programs that will be sustained over the long term.

  • Community evaluation tools should incorporate measures of the availability of opportunities for physical activity and healthful eating.

  • Communities should improve access to supermarkets, farmers’ markets, and community gardens to expand healthful food options, particularly in low-income and underserved areas.

Built Environment

Local governments, private developers, and community groups should expand opportunities for physical activity, including recreational facilities, parks, playgrounds, sidewalks, bike paths, routes for walking or bicycling to school, and safe streets and neighborhoods, especially for populations at high risk of childhood obesity.

To implement this recommendation:

Local governments, working with private developers and community groups should

  • Revise comprehensive plans, zoning and subdivision ordinances, and other planning practices to increase the availability of and accessibility to opportunities for physical activity in new developments.


Committed and sustained leadership is a common and essential element emerging from promising community-based efforts to address childhood obesity. At a minimum, leadership is viewed as the investment of adequate resources and the commitment of the institutions and organizations that engage in obesity prevention efforts. The sustainability of community-improvement initiatives has been attributed to leaders’ transition from a

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