The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sponsored the National Obesity Action Forum, June 5-6 in Bethesda, Md.
HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt has identified prevention as one of the department’s key priorities and has affirmed that the risk of many diseases and health conditions are reduced through actions that prevent obesity.
This two-day meeting, featuring Admiral John O. Agwunobi, assistant secretary for Health; U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona; and Rear Admiral Van S. Hubbard, M.D. Ph.D., the secretary’s senior advisor on obesity, addressed the problem of obesity in the United States by bringing together federal, state, and local public health officials; leaders of community organizations and advocacy groups; nutrition and physical fitness experts; health care providers; school and food industry representatives; and interested consumers.
Obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. It also is associated with approximately 112,000 deaths each year in the United States. An estimated 17 percent of children and adolescents are overweight, a problem with many associated health and social consequences that often continue into adulthood.
The forum, sponsored by HHS’ National Institutes of Health’s Division of Nutrition Research Coordination; the Office of Public Health and Science, Regions I-X; and Pennsylvania State University, serves as an opportunity for federal, state and local public health officials, leaders of community organizations and advocacy groups, and nutrition and physical fitness professionals to further develop action plans toward preventing obesity. The forum identified lessons learned in implementing change at the family and community levels; showcase various successful community models; and provide tools for local leaders to develop their own collaborations, as well as ways to sustain and evaluate those programs.