Mexico and noted that these alliances need to be carefully crafted so that they are not perceived as being driven by industry’s interests and thus risk losing credibility. To develop and maintain public trust in the alliances’ initiatives he recommends that industry takes a participant’s role rather than a leadership role.
He reiterated the role of industry and noted that self-regulation continues to be a point of debate, but he commended the food industry on the many initiatives it already has undertaken. However, he indicated that additional questions need to be answered, such as those related to the definition of a healthy product by developing a standard label for healthier products or other mechanism. He suggested that industry has an even broader role as an advocate for all healthy lifestyle activities, for example, it could serve as an advocate for the Verb Campaign (see Appendix C for a description), whose U.S. government funding unfortunately was stopped because of priorities other than obesity prevention. One of Koplan’s concerns is that the U.S. government does not invest sufficiently in prevention in general and in obesity control in particular, and such investment is required to make real progress in obesity prevention.
Koplan concluded that the role of the media should include a coherent, coordinated commitment throughout all programming to deliver a message about exercise and diet that will have much more impact than a discrete health message. Different circumstances will require carefully crafted messages depending on the communication means; for example, the nature of a message from a public health authority should be different from a more creative health message embedded in a TV show.
Workshop discussions, noted Koplan, conveyed how the profound differences in systems and cultures between Mexico and the United States could serve as lessons and result in synergistic, greater collaborative opportunities among different sectors and countries.
Juan Rivera summarized workshop discussions in more detail. Rivera reiterated the goals of the workshop and presented obesity trends in the United States (see Figure 2-1), providing a clear picture of the increase in prevalence since the 1970s. The 2005 IOM report, Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance, concluded that childhood obesity is an important public health problem, both in the United States and in Mexico and that Mexican–American children are among the most affected. The complexity of the problem might be augmented in the case of Mexican–American children because of the exchange of people across the borders and the potential consequences related to shifts in culture, language, food, media, economy, and trade. The 2005 IOM report provided an enlightening review of the implications for children and society and a set of recommendations for all sectors of society to be engaged and participate in the solutions. Such a review was critical as a basis for this workshop and served to under-