A virtual workshop titled Using Systems Applications to Inform Obesity Solutions, held on September 16, 2020, was convened by the Roundtable on Obesity Solutions, Health and Medicine Division, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Building on a prior workshop, the September event explored various systems science approaches (i.e., methodologies and tools) and support structures that could guide future obesity research and action, and featured examples of how these approaches can inform decision making within policy and program areas. Workshop speakers discussed the support structures (e.g., data sources, modeling expertise, training, and partnerships and collaborations) that encourage and engage researchers and decision makers to use systems science approaches to better understand the causes of and solutions to the obesity epidemic. This publication summarizes the presentation and discussion of the workshop.
The Food Forum of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine hosted a virtual workshop on July 22-23, 2020 that explored integration of the health, societal, economic, and environmental effects and future needs of the food system. The main objective of the workshop was to understand how to achieve a more sustainable, resilient, equitable, and nourishing food system.
The workshop covered a number of topics, including new expectations for the food system within three dimensions of the food system (vulnerabilities, resiliency, and transformation). Discussions also covered global change, access to nutritious food, resiliency in complex dynamic systems and resiliency for the future, and consumption- and production-oriented strategies for transforming the food system. This publication summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop.
A virtual workshop titled Integrating Systems and Sectors Toward Obesity Solutions, held April 6, 2020 (Part I), and June 30, 2020 (Part II), was convened by the Roundtable on Obesity Solutions, Health and Medicine Division, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The workshop introduced the concept of complex systems and the field of systems science, and explored systems science approaches to obesity solutions. Speakers provided an overview of systems science theories, approaches, and applications, highlighting examples from within and outside the obesity field. Presentations and discussions examined complex systems in society that have the potential to shape public health and well-being, and considered opportunities for systems change as they relate to obesity solutions. Specifically, the workshop explored factors that can influence obesity - such as (in)equity, relationships, connections, networks, capacity, power dynamics, social determinants, and political will - and how these factors can impact communications and cross-sector collaboration to address obesity. This publication summarizes the presentations and discussion of the workshop.
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One-third of adults are now obese, and children's obesity rates have climbed from 5 to 17 percent in the past 30 years. The causes of the nation's obesity epidemic are multi-factorial, having much more to do with the absence of sidewalks and the limited availability of healthy and affordable foods than a lack of personal responsibility. The broad societal changes that are needed to prevent obesity will inevitably affect activity and eating environments and settings for all ages. Many aspects of the obesity problem have been identified and discussed; however, there has not been complete agreement on what needs to be done to accelerate progress.
Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention reviews previous studies and their recommendations and presents five key recommendations to accelerate meaningful change on a societal level during the next decade. The report suggests recommendations and strategies that, independently, can accelerate progress, but urges a systems approach of many strategies working in concert to maximize progress in accelerating obesity prevention.
The recommendations in Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention include major reforms in access to and opportunities for physical activity; widespread reductions in the availability of unhealthy foods and beverages and increases in access to healthier options at affordable, competitive prices; an overhaul of the messages that surround Americans through marketing and education with respect to physical activity and food consumption; expansion of the obesity prevention support structure provided by health care providers, insurers, and employers; and schools as a major national focal point for obesity prevention. The report calls on all individuals, organizations, agencies, and sectors that do or can influence physical activity and nutrition environments to assess and begin to act on their potential roles as leaders in obesity prevention.
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