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Are Americans ready to solve the weight of the nation?
Date:8/1/2012

In a Perspective article appearing in this week's New England Journal of Medicine, public health researchers examine how recommendations in a new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM)"Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation"square with American's opinions about the obesity epidemic.

Over the last 30 years, rates of obesity have doubled among adults and tripled among children. The new IOM report summarizes growing evidence that these increases have been driven by a complex interaction of changes in the environments in which we liveour schools, our workplaces, our communities, in the media and in our food and beverage systems.

While praising the IOM report's scope and vision, Colleen L. Barry, PhD, MPP, associate professor of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and lead author of "Are Americans Ready to Solve the Weight of the Nation?" says that it is critical to understand how the public thinks about the problem of obesity. Barry notes that one recent poll found that 64 percent of Americans believe personal decisionsovereating, lack of exercise, watching too much televisionare the biggest contributors to obesity. However, only 18 percent of Americans attribute environmental factors, such as safe places for children to play, access and availability of healthy foods and exposure to junk food, as major contributors.

"If people think obesity is all about individuals and parents making bad choices, they will be much less likely to embrace changes in schools, communities and food marketing practices aimed at creating healthier environments," said Barry.

Jeff Niederdeppe, PhD, assistant professor of communication at Cornell University and a co-author of the article, emphasized the need for "a research-driven communication strategy to encourage a better understanding of the environmental determinants of obesity among the public, and to
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Contact: Tim Parsons
tmparson@jhsph.edu
410-955-7619
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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