RWJF Statement Regarding Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention

The following is a statement from James S. Marks, MD, MPH, senior vice president and director of the Health Group of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, regarding the release of the report Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention from the Institute of Medicine.

This new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is a strong call to action for all of us to do our part to reverse the obesity epidemic in our country. It reinforces that, while there have been signs of modest progress during the last few years, it has been far too slow. We must accelerate that progress.

This is the third major report on obesity prevention from the IOM in seven years. The first recommended a coordinated national action plan to prevent childhood obesity. The second focused attention and recommendations on what appeared to be the most effective strategies. This new report calls for a focused commitment to those strategies.

But it says even more, because the context has changed. Places that were among the first to adopt the comprehensive and evidence-based prevention strategies advocated by the IOM and others are achieving success, with meaningful declines in overall rates of childhood obesity. This is encouraging, but the gains are modest and fragile.

This report and these early signs of progress tell that us the evidence about how to prevent obesity is strong. We need to act on it. Success will require the combined efforts of parents, industry, community and national leaders, and others. But if everyone does their part to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic, our nation will be healthier.

The damage this epidemic is causing to our children’s health is too compelling to ignore. We must act now to prevent further damage not only to the health of our people, but also to the economic competitiveness and the security of our nation. Further delay is unconscionable.

It’s time for everyone to stand up and be accountable. Are you doing all you can within your area of authority and expertise?

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has been proud to support the IOM’s committees and reports on preventing childhood obesity. The IOM reports provide the nation with the guidance and the confidence to act. We know what to do. If we fail now, it will be a failure of will – not a failure of knowledge.

When we began this effort we had to ask the question, “Is it possible to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic?” We know now that the answer is emphatically, “Yes.” Today, the question is, “Will we reverse the childhood obesity epidemic?” I believe we will. And we must.