New IOM report lays out plan to determine effectiveness of obesity prevention efforts

The United States lags behind other international plans to evaluate obesity prevention efforts, and the country needs to know whether these efforts are having their intended impact, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. The committee that wrote the report concluded that more systematic and routine evaluations could help determine how well obesity prevention programs and policies are being implemented and which interventions work best. The committee also recommended specific national and community plans for evaluation of obesity prevention efforts.

Investment in obesity program and policy evaluation is too sporadic, presenting serious barriers to understanding the impact of interventions and the need for future investments, the committee said. Moreover, current data inadequately track progress of some programs, and such monitoring is needed at both the national and community levels. Although many monitoring systems exist, the national systems lack adequate leadership, coordination, infrastructure, guidance, accountability, and capacity. Furthermore, local communities do not have the necessary guidance, capacity, data, and resources for assessing the status of obesity, identifying prevention needs, monitoring obesity prevention actions, evaluating their short-term outcomes, and tracking their long-term effects on obesity reduction.

To guide future efforts to inform and improve obesity prevention at the national, state, and community levels, the committee designed separate but interdependent national and community obesity evaluation plans that prioritize activities and leverage existing resources. The plans provide frameworks for obtaining end-user input, choosing indicators and measures for data collection and analysis, and improving the evaluation structure—specifically the success of policy and environmental strategies recommended in the 2012 IOM report Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation.

Evaluation efforts lack an agreed-upon set of core indicators that could be used at the national and community levels for measuring and comparing progress in obesity prevention. As a starting point for developing the core set, the committee identified 83 indicators about which data are currently collected that could be incorporated into the national and community evaluation plans and provide guidance to improve the infrastructure and capacities of longer-term evaluations.

The evaluation plans outlined in the report will not be fully realized, however, without coordinated changes across multiple federal, state, and local government agencies and departments in collaboration with other nongovernmental partners responsible for -related activities, the committee said. It recommended the creation of an obesity task force or other entity to oversee and lead the implementation of the national plan and provide support to the community plan. In addition, relevant federal agencies, state and local health departments, and other pertinent organizations should enhance evaluation efforts through improved data collection, common guidance, access to and dissemination of data, work-force ability, capacity to address disparities and health equity, and integration of a systems approach in evaluation efforts.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Community-based programs may help prevent childhood obesity

Jun 17, 2013

When it comes to confronting childhood obesity, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conclude that community-based approaches are important. A systematic review of childhood obesity prevention ...

Recommended for you

Gut bacteria promote obesity in mice

Sep 30, 2014

A species of gut bacteria called Clostridium ramosum, coupled with a high-fat diet, may cause animals to gain weight. The work is published this week in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiol ...

An apple a day could keep obesity away

Sep 29, 2014

Scientists at Washington State University have concluded that nondigestible compounds in apples – specifically, Granny Smith apples – may help prevent disorders associated with obesity. The study, thought ...

Boosting purchasing power to lower obesity rates

Sep 25, 2014

In January, as one of the first major initiatives of the Academic Vision, the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity will move to UConn from Yale University. The move will allow Rudd faculty to expand their work and build ...

Note to young men: Fat doesn't pay

Sep 23, 2014

Men who are already obese as teenagers could grow up to earn up to 18 percent less than their peers of normal weight. So says Petter Lundborg of Lund University, Paul Nystedt of Jönköping University and ...

Waistlines of US adults continue to increase

Sep 16, 2014

The prevalence of abdominal obesity and average waist circumference increased among U.S. adults from 1999 to 2012, according to a study in the September 17 issue of JAMA.

User comments