Food and Nutrition Creating Equal Opportunities for a Healthy Weight

New from the National Academies Press:

Creating Equal Opportunities for a Healthy Weight is the summary of a workshop convened by the Institute of Medicine’s Standing Committee on Childhood Obesity Prevention in June 2013 to examine income, race, and ethnicity, and how these factors intersect with childhood obesity and its prevention. Registered participants, along with viewers of a simultaneous webcast of the workshop, heard a series of presentations by researchers, policy makers, advocates, and other stakeholders focused on health disparities associated with income, race, ethnicity, and other characteristics and on how these factors intersect with obesity and its prevention. The workshop featured invited presentations and discussions concerning physical activity, healthy food access, food marketing and messaging, and the roles of employers, health care professionals, and schools.

The IOM 2012 report Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention acknowledged that a variety of characteristics linked historically to social exclusion or discrimination, including race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, age, mental health, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity, geographic location, and immigrant status, can thereby affect opportunities for physical activity, healthy eating, health care, work, and education. In many parts of the United States, certain racial and ethnic groups and low-income individuals and families live, learn, work, and play in places that lack health-promoting resources such as parks, recreational facilities, high-quality grocery stores, and walkable streets. These same neighborhoods may have characteristics such as heavy traffic or other unsafe conditions that discourage people from walking or being physically active outdoors. The combination of unhealthy social and environmental risk factors, including limited access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity, can contribute to increased levels of chronic stress among community members, which have been linked to increased levels of sedentary activity and increased calorie consumption. Creating Equal Opportunities for a Healthy Weight focuses on the key obesity prevention goals and recommendations outlined in Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention through the lens of health equity. This report explores critical aspects of obesity prevention, while discussing potential future research, policy, and action that could lead to equity in opportunities to achieve a healthy weight.

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