Washington, D.C.—A recent report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which advises policy makers and leaders on public health matters, recommends that efforts be made by the food industry, as well as the government, to reduce unhealthy food options and increase access to healthy ones. “Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation” was presented at the Weight of the Nation conference, held here in May.

To cut down on obesity, specific points of emphasis for the food industry and government should include smaller portion sizes, monitoring and limiting the way food is marketed to children and lowering the intake of sugary drinks, according to IOM. The report also calls for the spread of healthier menu options, as well as cooperation from the private sector and government on placing supermarkets and food retailers in underserved areas the often rely on fast food. This effort to bring health-focused retailers to the inner-city, according to IOM, could be helped along with the use of financial incentives, such as tax credits, and public zoning strategies. This recommendation goes hand in hand with their call for affordable and competitively priced healthy food, a change incumbent upon the food and retail industries, according to the report. This report, on the whole, is being widely interpreted as an effort to shift the obesity focus from “blame the individual” toward societal responsibility.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, July 2012 (online 5/24/12)