The Surgeon General's Call To Action To Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity
The Power of People and Ideas
Public health efforts are carried by the force of ideas and by the power of commitment. Healthy People 2010 identifies goals to improve the country’s health status, including reducing the prevalence of overweight and obesity. This Surgeon General’s Call To Action To Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity addresses the Healthy People 2010 objectives to reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity and presents many ideas by which this can be done. Translating these ideas into meaningful action will require a great commitment. We must collectively build on existing successful programs in both the public and private sectors, identify current gaps in action, and develop and initiate actions to fill those gaps. Public-private working groups should be formed around key themes or around the major settings in which obesity prevention and treatment efforts need to take place. While the magnitude of the problem is great, the range of potential solutions is even greater. The design of successful interventions and actions for prevention and management of overweight and obesity will require the careful attention of many individuals and organizations working together through multiple spheres of influence.
Individuals lie at the foundation of the solution to the problems of overweight and obesity. Individuals can share their own knowledge and habits regarding a healthy diet and physical activity with their children, other family members, friends, and co-workers. Through frank dialogue regarding the methods, challenges, and benefits of adopting a healthy lifestyle, individuals can make the effort to combat the obesity epidemic both personal and relevant.
Organizations represent individuals who have common goals and purposes. Organizations can initiate discussions on obesity and overweight within their membership and can establish weight and lifestyle goals. Organizations can develop programs that educate members on food choices and appropriate levels of physical activity and engage members in these healthy habits. Using their links to and influence within the broader community, organizations can share their experiences in weight management and thus serve as an important public resource.
Industry has a vital role in the prevention of overweight and obesity. Through the production and distribution of food and other consumer products, industry exerts a tremendous impact on the nutritional quality of the food we eat and the extent of physical activity in which we engage. Industry can use that leverage to create and sustain an environment that encourages individuals to achieve and maintain a healthy or healthier body weight.
Communities consist of multiple components, including individuals, faith-based and other community organizations, worksites, and governments. A forum should be provided in which all community members can discuss the scope of the problem of overweight and obesity within the community. Also, the nature and adequacy of available resources for public education and treatment, as well as current and future policies and programs to reduce the burden of overweight and obesity within the community, must be addressed. Clearly, the discussions and the strategies adopted will vary depending on the prevalence of obesity and overweight within each community.
Local governments can work together with organizations and communities to facilitate goals for reducing overweight and obesity. Local governments can assist with providing services to increase physical activity and improve nutritional intake. State, Tribal, and local governments can collaborate more with Federal nutrition assistance programs that provide services promoting healthy eating and physical activity. States can form task forces, steering committees, or advisory committees and can also develop State strategic plans. State and national governments can provide funding for research on the effects of interventions on overweight and obesity prevalence, prevention, and treatment, and on trends in diet and exercise among at-risk populations. Governments can also provide support for public education, public awareness campaigns, and treatment services. Finally, governments can create and promote policies that promote an environment in which healthy dietary and physical activity options are readily accessible.
Last revised: January 11, 2007