Reporting on health and quality of life in South LA

Institute of Medicine: US lags in evaluating obesity prevention efforts

A report finds that the U.S. does a poor job of tracking which obesity programs work best.
A report finds that the U.S. does a poor job of tracking which obesity programs work best. Chris/Flickr Creative Commons

When it comes to preventing obesity, the U.S. is lagging behind other nations in figuring out how effective its efforts are in convincing people to lose weight.

A new report from the Institute of Medicine says if the U.S. were more systematic and consistent at doing that, it would have a better chance at selecting the best programs to invest in. (Read the report below.)

On a related note, the institute also says overall investment in obesity programs is too sporadic.

South Los Angeles has the highest child obesity rate in L.A. County – and its adult rate is second highest, and well above the county average. About 1 in 3 southside adults are obese, compared to about 27 percent of U.S. adults.

The IOM report characterized the challenges facing U.S. health officials as largely structural. Among the authors' findings and comments:

  • Obesity prevention data is not monitored at neither the community nor the national levels. It should.
  • The monitoring programs that do exist lack: leadership, coordination, infrastructure, guidance, accountability and capacity.
  • Communities that want to monitor the progress of their obesity prevention programs often lack the resources to do so.

The IOM wrote that national and community evaluation plans should be "interdependent," noting that's when they'll have the best shot at preventing obesity. The authors wrote that will require "organizational change and support across multiple federal, state, and local governmental agencies and departments," in collaboration with other partners.

Better evaluation of obesity prevention efforts will make them more likely to be adopted on a more widespread level, concluded the authors.

Evaluating Obesity Prevention Efforts - A Plan for Measuring Progress

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