Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: Focus on Communities - Brief Summary: Institute of Medicine Regional Symposium


Note: Proceedings contain the opinion of the presenters, but do NOT reflect the conclusions of the Health and Medicine Division or the National Academies. Learn more about the differences between Reports and Proceedings.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM), through the Food and Nutrition Board, and with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is undertaking a study to design a dissemination effort that will promote the implementation of the findings and recommendations for the IOM report, Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance, and to assess progress in childhood obesity prevention efforts.

In 2005, the IOM Committee on Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity organized three regional symposia in the midwest, southeastern, and western United States to galvanize obesity prevention efforts of local, state, and national decision-makers, community and school leaders, grassroots organizations, and industry--including the food, beverage, restaurant, leisure, and entertainment industries.

These three symposia involved disseminating the findings and recommendations of the original IOM report; catalyzing dialogues that highlight promising practices for schools, communities, and industry; and identifying assets and barriers to move forward with obesity prevention efforts in these sectors and selected regions.

In collaboration with the Healthcare Georgia Foundation, the committee held the study's second regional symposium in Atlanta, Georgia on October 6-7, 2005.

Recognizing that the health of children and youth is closely linked to the health of communities, this symposium focused on the specific IOM report recommendations for stakeholders at the local, state, regional, and federal levels to explore how to create healthy communities for U.S. children and youth. The symposium provided a useful forum for stakeholders to explore viable strategies and exchange information about promising practices and approaches for addressing barriers to obesity prevention initiatives.

This brief summary highlights the recurring themes that emerged from the symposium for accelerating change and moving forward with obesity prevention efforts:

  • empowering communities and neighborhoods;
  • changing the environment;
  • forging strategic partnerships;
  • garnering and mobilizing political support;
  • educating stakeholders;
  • identifying leaders and building on cultural assets;
  • collecting and disseminating local data;
  • evaluating programs and interventions; and
  • translating successful interventions to other communities.

This summary, along with two other symposia summaries, and a more detailed discussion of insights and regional examples, will be incorporated in the IOM committee's final report on progress in preventing childhood obesity that will be released in September 2006.