Creating Equal Opportunities for a Healthy Weight - Workshop Summary


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The 2012 IOM report Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention identified five environments in which change is needed to accelerate progress in obesity prevention. Each of these – settings, physical activity, food and beverage, messaging, health care and worksites, and schools – interact with the others, creating a set of interconnected systems that can be changed only through engagement, leadership, and action among many groups and at many levels.

The report recognized that not all individuals, families, and communities are similarly situated when it comes to obesity prevention. In many parts of the United States, low-income individuals and families live, learn, work, and play in neighborhoods that lack sufficient health protective resources such as parks and open space, grocery stores, walkable streets, and high-quality schools. A variety of characteristics linked historically to social exclusion or discrimination – including race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, age, mental health, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity, geographic location, and immigrant status – can affect opportunities for healthy living.

To examine the role of the many factors that contribute to health disparities and to explore ways to counter and reverse their influence, the IOM Standing Committee on Childhood Obesity Prevention held a workshop on June 6-7, 2013. Workshop attendees explored health equity issues in each of these critical setting, while discussing potential future research, policy, and action in each area that could lead to equity in opportunities to achieve a healthy weight. This document summarizes the workshop.