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New Academic Analysis Identifies Three Barriers to Achieving Healthy and Achievable Policies to Combat Obesity in America
Date:11/2/2007

e from being a treatment-oriented society to being a prevention-oriented society."

According to Christine Ferguson, J.D., P.I., associate research professor at GW's SPHHS and the director of the STOP Obesity Alliance, the academic analysis provides an opportunity to shift how we approach the obesity epidemic.

"Programs and products targeting obesity are pervasive in America today, yet its incidence continues to rise," said Ferguson, "The Alliance is challenging the private and public sectors to examine new obstacles, re-evaluate older approaches, and focus on a new model for overcoming obesity."

The Alliance requested the analysis from GW following its first Steering Committee meeting in July. The report will serve as the research foundation for policy recommendations that the Alliance will release this year.

The GW research and analysis focuses on three barriers, which include:

-- The definition of success: There is no agreement today on what constitutes successful weight loss. The result is that people generally have unrealistic expectations of weight loss, and those expectations are often not focused on their individual health needs.

-- Perceptions of treatment: With treatment results held to unrealistic definitions of success, many patients and health care professionals believe that the time and effort associated with weight-loss treatments are not justified by the outcomes.

-- Stigma: Research shows that as obesity increases in prevalence throughout America, so do stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes. This stigma reinforces a perception that obesity is solely an individual, not a societal, responsibility.

"We must apply evidence-based science to break down the barriers that prevent people from achieving and maintaining a healthy weight," Dr. Carmona said. "If we choose to turn away from this challenge and continue to focus on treating disease only after it occurs, instead of preventing disease, we risk
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SOURCE George Washington University School of Public Health andHealth
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