National data show that currently more than 10 percent of preschoolers in the United States are obese, and an additional 10 percent are overweight. In a recently published article, a researcher from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, in collaboration with peers and colleagues from across the nation, says that effective strategies to target pregnancy, infancy, and toddlers are urgently needed to stop the progression of childhood obesity. The call to action comes just weeks after the release of a recent report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and an HBO documentary, "The Weight of the Nation," both of which focused on the nation's growing obesity epidemic. The full text of the article is available in the June issue of Childhood Obesity.
The authors point to evidence which shows that over the past several generations behavioral and societal changes have led to the obesity epidemic, with attendant health and economic consequences demanding new scientific approaches, policy, and actions. Obesity, they say, is a complex problem involving multiple factors including the family, community structures and services, and broad societal forces. That these contributors are interrelated only adds complexity to the issue, which ultimately results in a growing epidemic.