United Nations agencies and Governments around the world have taken note of the increasing prevalence of obesity in children and adults as hallmarks of an epidemic of non-communicable diseases. Obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer pose serious health burdens to populations and threaten economies because they are so costly to treat. Multiple sectors of society can potentially contribute to the solution. Strategies for obesity prevention and management are needed in all countries. The greatest opportunities for controlling the problem may be found in countries where it has just begun to emerge but the greatest urgency is felt in countries where the problem is most advanced.
Strategies that are appropriate and effective for addressing obesity will differ according to whether there is also prevalent under-nutrition, as is many low and middle income countries. How to approach obesity will also differ according to the nature of national and regional food systems, physical environments, healthcare and public health infrastructures, and social and cultural factors.
This Forum is scanning the global environment to identify the key challenges and opportunities for tackling obesity. We are identifying case studies around the world showcasing mobilization of local resources and ingenuity in obesity prevention and control. Our recommendations will align with development goals and also afford ample opportunity for local creativity and innovation.
University of Pennsylvania & International Obesity Task Force
Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, MPH has an interdisciplinary background and holds advanced degrees in social work, nutrition, and public health. She is a professor of epidemiology (Departments of Biostatistics and Epidemiology and Pediatrics (Nutrition)), senior scholar in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and the associate dean for health promotion and disease prevention at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. She is also Senior Advisor to Penn's University-wide Center for Public Health Initiatives.
Dr Kumanyika has served as principal investigator or co-investigator on several randomized multi-center and single-center clinical trials related to diet, obesity, weight control, and cardiovascular disease risk. She is currently studying factors associated with success among African American participants in weight control programs and influences of food marketing environments on African American food purchasing behaviors. Dr Kumanyika has served on numerous advisory or expert panels related to nutrition and chronic disease research and policy, both nationally and internationally, and chairs the Institute of Medicine Committee on Prevention of Obesity in Children and Youth. She is founder and chair of the African American Collaborative Obesity Research Network (AACORN).