Bridging the Evidence Gap in Obesity Prevention

To battle the obesity epidemic in America, health care professionals and policy-makers need relevant, useful data on the effectiveness of obesity prevention policies and programs. Bridging the Evidence Gap in Obesity Prevention identifies a new approach to decision-making and research on obesity prevention to use a systems perspective to gain a broader understanding of the context of obesity and the many factors that influence it.

The IOM Committee on an Evidence Framework for Obesity Prevention Decision Making was formed to develop a framework for evidence-informed decision-making in obesity prevention, with a focus on assessing policy, environment and community interventions that influence food, eating, and physical activity. Inherent in this charge was recognition that, while treatment and prevention focus on the individual remains relevant, there is a growing need for obesity prevention strategies that focus on whole populations—multicomponent, multilevel strategies that can favorably impact communities or other complex systems. The committee developed the L.E.A.D. framework: Locate Evidence, Evaluate Evidence, Assemble Evidence, and Inform Decisions.

The report provides background on obesity prevention concepts and approaches and then explores each component of the proposed L.E.A.D. framework. The report further presents recommendations for supporting the identification, use and evaluation of evidence to inform obesity prevention decisions and generate evidence when it is lacking.