The Surgeon General's Call To Action To Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity
Setting 1: Families and Communities
Families and communities lie at the foundation of the solution to the problems of overweight and obesity. Family members can share their own knowledge and habits regarding a healthy diet and physical activity with their children, friends, and other community members. Emphasis should be placed on family and community opportunities for communication, education, and peer support surrounding the maintenance of healthy dietary choices and physical activity patterns.
- Raise consumer awareness about the effect of being overweight on overall health.
- Inform community leaders about the importance of developing healthy communities.
- Highlight programs that support healthful food and physical activity choices to community decision makers.
- Raise policy makers’ awareness of the need to develop social and environmental policy that would help communities and families be more physically active and consume a healthier diet.
- Educate individuals, families, and communities about healthy dietary patterns and regular physical activity, based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
- Educate parents about the need to serve as good role models by practicing healthy eating habits and engaging in regular physical activity in order to instill lifelong healthy habits in their children.
- Raise consumer awareness about reasonable food and beverage portion sizes.
- Educate expectant parents and other community members about the potentially protective effect of breastfeeding against the development of obesity.
- Form community coalitions to support the development of increased opportunities to engage in leisure time physical activity and to encourage food outlets to increase availability of low-calorie, nutritious food items.
- Encourage the food industry to provide reasonable food and beverage portion sizes.
- Increase availability of nutrition information for foods eaten and prepared away from home.
- Create more community-based obesity prevention and treatment programs for children and adults.
- Empower families to manage weight and health through skill building in parenting, meal planning, and behavioral management.
- Expand efforts to encourage healthy eating patterns, consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, by nutrition assistance recipients.
- Provide demonstration grants to address the lack of access to and availability of healthy affordable foods in inner cities.
- Promote healthful dietary patterns, including consumption of at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
- Create community environments that promote and support breastfeeding.
- Decrease time spent watching television and in similar sedentary behaviors by children and their families.
- Provide demonstration grants to address the lack of public access to safe and supervised physical activity.
- Create and implement public policy related to the provision of safe and accessible sidewalks, walking and bicycle paths, and stairs.
Research and Evaluation
- Conduct research on obesity prevention and reduction to confirm their effects on improving health outcomes.
- Determine the root causes, behaviors, and social and ecological factors leading to obesity and how such forces vary by race and ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status.
- Assess the factors contributing to the disproportionate burden of overweight and obesity in low-income and minority racial and ethnic populations.
- Develop and evaluate preventive interventions that target infants and children, especially those who are at high risk of becoming obese.
- Coordinate research activities to refine risk assessment, to enhance obesity prevention, and to support appropriate consumer messages and education.
- Study the cost-effectiveness of community-directed strategies designed to prevent the onset of overweight and obesity.
- Conduct behavioral research to identify how to motivate people to increase and maintain physical activity and make healthier food choices.
- Evaluate the feasibility of incentives that support healthful dietary and physical activity patterns.
- Identify techniques that can foster community motivation to reduce overweight and obesity.
- Examine the marketing practices of the fast food industry and the factors determining construction of new food outlets.
Last revised: January 11, 2007