Two-thirds of adults and nearly one-third of children in the United States are overweight or obese. The costs of obesity are rising at an alarming rate and causing a backslide in other health areas that have seen improvements over the past century. In this report, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) identifies catalysts to speed progress in obesity prevention.

Supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), this report outlines comprehensive strategies for addressing the nation’s obesity epidemic and calls on leaders in all sectors to accelerate action to advance those strategies. The report was released on the second day of the 2012 Weight of the Nation conference, hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report includes five critical goals:

  1. Integrate physical activity into people's daily lives.
  2. Create food and beverage environments that ensure healthy food and beverage options are the routine, easy choice.
  3. Transform marketing and messages about physical activity and nutrition.
  4. Make schools a national focal point for obesity prevention.
  5. Expand the role of health care providers, insurers and employers in obesity prevention.

The report also identifies a number of strategies it recommends to achieve these goals, including: Requiring at least 60 minutes of physical education activity in schools; creating industry-wide guidelines on which foods and beverages can be marketed to children and how; expanding workplace wellness programs; taking advantage of physicians' roles to advocate for obesity prevention with patients and their community; and increasing the availability of lower-calorie, healthier children's meals in restaurants.

IOM President Harvey V. Fineberg states: "Obesity is both an individual and societal concern, and it will take action from all of us—individuals, communities, and the nation as a whole—to achieve a healthier society."