About 68 percent of adults in the United States aged 20 years or older are overweight or obese. Among children, the rate is nearly 32 percent. The obesity epidemic poses major challenges for policy makers, public health professionals, and other decision makers who need to act decisively to respond to this complex, population-based health problem. To inform their decisions, they need relevant and useful evidence on promising obesity prevention actions for the populations they serve.
In 2008, Kaiser Permanente asked the IOM to develop a practical, action-oriented framework to guide the use of evidence in decision making about obesity prevention policies and programs and to guide the generation of new and relevant evidence. With these questions in mind, the IOM developed the L.E.A.D. framework, short for Locate evidence, Evaluate it, Assemble it, and Inform Decisions. Decision makers, their intermediaries, and researchers can apply the L.E.A.D. framework and its innovative process for generating, identifying, evaluating, and assembling evidence to inform the decisions that must be made about obesity prevention. If they are able to collect and use the best available evidence and work with researchers to generate additional useful evidence, decision makers will be armed with the most appropriate and relevant knowledge to help turn around this overwhelming national health crisis.