Prevention: A Blueprint for Action. Action Steps for HHS/Overweight and Obesity


HHS has a large number of current initiatives and programs underway to address obesity and overweight.  They include programs in education, communication and outreach, intervention, diet and nutrition, physical activity and fitness, disease surveillance, research, clinical preventive services and therapeutics, and policy and web-based tools.  The programs are targeted to a variety of populations including infants and breastfeeding mothers, children and adolescents, women, minorities, the elderly, the disabled, rural, and the general population.  Additional areas to target initiatives may include:

  • Design and implement programs that work with children and parents to prevent and treat obesity, since the best opportunity to slow the U.S. obesity ‘epidemic’ may be in childhood.
  • Evaluate effectiveness of treatment and preventive programs to build a practical evidence base for new interventions.  Relevant research questions may include:
    • Do certain populations (e.g., gender or age-related, racial/ethnic populations) benefit more from certain therapies?
    • What is the optimum amount of time to treat, and what is the optimum level of weight loss to target?
    • What evidence exists to support long-term weight loss and weight-maintenance, e.g., over one year or five years?
    • What is the safety and efficacy of certain therapies?
    • What risks are associated with weight loss, especially for certain populations such as the elderly, for example, who generally are at high risk for osteoporosis?
  • Explore ways to increase awareness and knowledge, especially in certain populations, about obesity and interventions that may reduce obesity and promote healthy energy balance. 
  • Develop interventions that address needs of special populations.
  • Focus further research on the psychological and motivational aspects of weight maintenance, and on identifying any demonstrable benefits for private or public health insurance programs.
  • Enhance food labels to display calorie count more prominently and to use meaningful serving sizes.
  • Evaluate and recommend the types of health communication activities that would most effectively support the "Calories Count" message.
  • Encourage restaurants to provide meaningful nutritional information to consumers.
  • Step up enforcement actions concerning accuracy of food labels.
  • Revise FDA guidance for developing drugs to treat obesity.
  • Work cooperatively with other government agencies, non-profit organizations, industry, and academia on obesity research.
  • Incorporate the findings from the recently released reports on health literacy from the Institute of Medicine and AHRQ into overweight and obesity information and communication activities.

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