America the Super-Sized

It's Time to Redraw the Map

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, addressed leaders of the food, beverage and consumer products industry and urged them to work toward reversing the childhood obesity epidemic. Her remarks, “America the Super-Sized: It’s Time to Redraw the Map,” were well-received by an audience of 400 at the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s 2009 Executive Conference in Colorado Springs, Colo., on August 31, 2009.

In her address, Lavizzo-Mourey stressed the urgency of reversing the epidemic, describing it as “a medical, social and financial disaster of historic proportion.” She traced the epidemic’s rapid rise over the past 25 years and cited a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating that medical costs attributable to obesity may be as high as $147 billion, not including indirect costs like lost productivity and higher health insurance premiums.

In order to reverse the epidemic, Lavizzo-Mourey emphasized the need to restore “energy balance” to children’s lives, ensuring that calories consumed equal calories burned through growth and physical activity.

Lavizzo-Mourey said that no single organization or sector is capable of reversing the epidemic on its own. Success is only possible if we all commit to the goal—individual parents and families, education leaders, government at all levels, community organizations, philanthropies, and the food and beverage industry.