The Role of Business in Multisector Obesity Solutions: Working Together for Positive Change—Workshop in Brief


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On April 12, 2016, the Roundtable on Obesity Solutions convened a 1-day workshop in Washington, DC, to examine the role of the business sector in obesity solutions. The goal of the workshop was threefold: (1) explore why companies should be involved in obesity solutions and how to encourage them to do so; (2) identify reasons why businesses might be interested in being involved in obesity solutions; (3) identify ways in which business can be engaged in obesity solutions. Nico Pronk, vice president for health management and chief science officer at Health Partners Inc., started the workshop and referred to statistics that show the rapid growth in obesity prevalence among U.S. workers, from 15 to 30 percent over the past three decades. Pronk listed several ways that obesity in the workforce impacts both companies and individuals. He emphasized the bidirectional connection between healthy companies and thriving communities and put obesity into the context of the social determinants of health model, which predicts that only 20 percent of an individual’s health is related to what happens in the doctor’s office and the remainder to social and economic factors, behaviors, and the physical environment. He raised four questions for workshop participants to consider: (1) How can business be engaged? (2) How does business relate to other sectors in ways that may align efforts? (3) What are examples of partnerships between businesses and other community stakeholders? (4) What are opportunities and barriers to engaging business? This Workshop in Brief highlights key points made during the presentations and discussions and is not intended to provide a comprehensive summary of information shared during the workshop.