"Obesity is a societal problem, and it will take a societal response," Frieden said.
Samantha Heller, a dietitian, nutritionist and exercise physiologist, said the nature of that response isn't clear.
"We know we have an obesity problem in the U.S. The question that frustrates health professionals is what to do about it," she said.
Health education remains a critical element of behavioral change. Making healthy foods available and affordable, creating green spaces for outdoor recreation and community programs to support people in need of health and nutrition counseling are also key pieces of the puzzle, Heller said.
"But it is a challenge to find the funding for programs like these. In this economy, people are tightening their money belts and cannot afford to shell out cash for what they perceive to be expensive nutrition or health counseling. Unfortunately as we tighten the money belt, we are adding notches to the belts around our waists," Heller said.
It's not that people are contented with being overweight, she added.
"In my experience people want to feel good and get healthy but do not know where to go to get help," Heller said.
For more information on obesity, visit the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
SOURCES: Samantha Heller, M.S., R.D., dietitian, nutritionist, exercise physiologist, Fairfield, Conn.; Aug, 3, 2010, teleconference with Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; CDC report, State-Specific Obesity Prevalence Among Adults -- United States, 2009
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