Efforts to combat obesity in America got a boost this past Friday with the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) release of a report that will provide guidance for systematic and routine planning, implementation, and evaluation of obesity prevention efforts.
Less than two months ago, the American Medical Association (AMA) voted to recognize obesity as a disease, making it a medical condition requiring treatment that should be covered by insurance.
Similarly, the IOM report, "Evaluating Obesity Prevention Efforts: A Plan for Measuring Progress," stressed the need for action.
"Obesity poses one of the greatest public health challenges of the 21st century, creating serious health, economic, and social consequences for individuals and society," states the report. "Despite acceleration in efforts to characterize, comprehend, and act on this problem, including implementation of preventive interventions, further understanding is needed on the progress and effectiveness of these interventions."
IOM formed a committee to develop a concise and actionable plan for measuring the nation's progress in obesity prevention efforts and guidelines for local communities to conduct evaluations, according to the report brief. The project is based on a 2012 IOM report that dealt with accelerating obesity prevention.
The IOM committee recommends interconnected national and community plans. The report also advises that pertinent federal agencies--in collaboration with nonfederal partners--standardize data collection and analysis.
"This report is most important," Mitchell Roslin, M.D., chief of obesity surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City told HealthDay News. "Sadly, it will find that current efforts are not working, especially in economic-challenged areas."
However, while obesity-prevention programs may initially require a large investment, treating patients that are obese could cost the nation and the healthcare industry more, according to the HealthDay News article.
The report concluded that more organized and frequent evaluations could help determine how well obesity-prevention programs and policies are being implemented and which interventions work best. Ideally, the most promising practices will be disseminated across the nation.
"The solution to the obesity crisis will depend on finding and assessing its causes," states the report.