About Publications

Publications from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine provide objective and straightforward advice to decision makers and the public. This site includes Health and Medicine Division (HMD) publications released after 1998. A complete list of HMD’s publications from its establishment in 1970 to the present is available as a PDF.


  • Alliances for Obesity Prevention: Finding Common Ground ... Released: May 11, 2012
    Many organizations are making focused efforts to prevent obesity. To achieve their goals, accelerate their progress, and sustain their success, the assistance of many other individuals and groups—not all of them with a singular focus on obesity prevention—will be essential. In October 2011 the Institute of Medicine held a workshop that provided an opportunity for obesity prevention groups to hear from and hold discussions with many of these potential allies in obesity prevention. They explored common ground for joint activities and mutual successes, and lessons learned from efforts at aligning diverse groups with goals in common.
  • Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the ... Released: May 08, 2012
    Two-thirds of adults and one-third of children are overweight or obese. Left unchecked, obesity’s effects on health, health care costs, and our productivity as a nation could become catastrophic. The staggering human toll of obesity-related chronic disease and disability and an annual cost of $190.2 billion for treating obesity-related illness underscore the urgent need to strengthen obesity prevention efforts in the United States. The IOM evaluated prior obesity-prevention strategies and identified recommendations to accelerate progress. The IOM’s recommendations, when implemented together, could profoundly reshape the environments where people live, learn, work, and play.
  • Ensuring Safe Foods and Medical Products Through Stronger ... Released: April 04, 2012
    Whether it’s suspect scallions from Mexico or contaminated ingredients from China used in the blood thinner heparin, the FDA is intimately familiar with the daunting task of policing the safety of food and medical products faced by regulators abroad. The FDA is responsible for protecting American consumers from unsafe food, medicines, biologics, and medical products that originate from many different countries and are transported through complex supply chains. The IOM formed a committee to identify the core elements of food, medicine, medical product, and biologics regulatory systems in developing countries; to pin-point the main gaps in these systems; and to design a strategy to leverage the expertise of the FDA and other stakeholders to strengthen regulatory systems abroad.
  • Nutrition and Healthy Aging in the Community - Workshop ... Released: March 20, 2012
    As the baby boomers age, the population of Americans over the age of 65 is expected to increase to about 55 million in 2020. The increase in the older population will result in a surging demand for the delivery of services and create new challenges for older people, their caregivers, and nutrition and social services professionals who seek to ensure these services’ availability. The IOM held a workshop to highlight topics related to community-based delivery of nutrition services for older adults and to identify nutrition interventions and model programs which support the transition to home care as well as health and independent living in the community.
  • Measuring Progress in Obesity Prevention - Workshop Report ... Released: February 23, 2012
    Nearly 69 percent of U.S. adults and 32 percent of children are either overweight or obese, creating an annual medical cost burden that may reach $147 billion. Researchers and policy makers are eager to identify improved measures of environmental and policy factors that contribute to obesity prevention. The IOM formed the Committee on Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention to review the IOM’s past obesity-related recommendations, identify a set of recommendations for future action, and recommend indicators of progress in implementing these actions. The committee held a workshop in March 2011 about how to improve measurement of progress in obesity prevention.
  • Front-of-Package Nutrition Rating Systems and Symbols ... Released: October 20, 2011
    Although nutrition rating systems and symbols on food packages intend to help consumers make healthy decisions, the wide variety of systems that are on products today often lead consumers to become confused about what they mean instead of giving them the intended healthy dietary guidance. Congress directed the CDC to undertake a study with the IOM with additional support provided by the FDA and the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion in the USDA. The report concludes that it is time for a fundamental shift in strategy, a move away from complex or confusing FOP systems that do not give clear guidance about the healthfulness of a food or beverage and toward one that encourages healthier choices through simplicity, visual clarity, and the ability to convey meaning without written information. The report recommends a simple FOP nutrition rating system that shows calories in household measures and points for the healthfulness of the product, enabling shoppers to instantly recognize healthier products by their number of points and calorie information.
  • Updating the USDA National Breastfeeding Campaign ... Released: September 21, 2011
    Support for breastfeeding has been a priority of the WIC program since its inception in the 1970s. The Loving Support Makes Breastfeeding Work campaign, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services launched in 1997, emphasizes key components needed for a breastfeeding mother to be successful. More than a decade after the campaign began, USDA wants to update it, taking into account changes in the WIC program, participants, and technology. On April 26, 2011, the IOM hosted a workshop to bring together experts to discuss what has changed since Loving Support began, lessons learned from other public health campaigns, and suggestions for where to take the campaign in the future.
  • Legal Strategies in Childhood Obesity Prevention - Workshop ... Released: August 10, 2011
    When public health campaigns to buckle up or quit smoking were unsuccessful, legal strategies–such as fines for not wearing a seatbelt and restrictions on where smoking could occur–were used to reduce the number of health issues, injuries, and deaths caused by these behaviors. Childhood obesity is another health concern that remains a substantial problem in the U.S. Could legal restrictions and regulations also help combat childhood obesity? IOM held a workshop October 21, 2010, to bring together stakeholders to discuss the current and future legal strategies aimed at combating childhood obesity.
  • Leveraging Food Technology for Obesity Prevention and ... Released: July 27, 2011
    In order to help reduce the obesity burden on the American population, behavioral scientists have emphasized building an evidence base for understanding what drives the energy imbalance in overweight and obese individuals. Food scientists have tapped into this evidence to develop food technologies that can increase the healthfulness of the food supply by reducing energy density, increasing fruit and vegetable intake, and controlling food portion sizes. The IOM held a workshop November 2-3, 2010, to bring together stakeholders to discuss the opportunities and challenges in using food technology to help individuals with long-term weight maintenance.
  • Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies : Health and ... Released: June 23, 2011
    Even the youngest children in the United States are at risk of becoming obese. To combat this growing problem and contribute to efforts in obesity prevention in young children, the IOM reviewed factors related to overweight and obesity from birth to age five, with a focus on nutrition, physical activity, and sedentary behavior. The IOM recommends that healthcare providers take opportunities to make parents aware of their child’s excess weight early on. In addition, the IOM recommends that parents and child care providers keep children active throughout the day, provide them with healthy diets, limit screen time, and ensure children get an adequate amount of sleep.