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Population-Based Programs Key to Battling Obesity

Healthy eating and exercise initiatives complement clinical preventive strategies

TUESDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- Population-based initiatives aimed at preventing excess weight gain complement clinical preventive strategies and treatment for obese people, according to an article published online June 30 in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Shiriki K. Kumanyika, Ph.D., and colleagues from the American Heart Association Council on Epidemiology and Prevention detail the factors that need to be taken into consideration in formulating population-based obesity prevention programs, and describe the different environmental and policy approaches to the prevention of obesity.

The authors spell out the various components of a comprehensive approach to obesity prevention, from influencing policy and changing organizational practices to promoting community-based education efforts and strengthening the skills and education of individuals. They note that much can be learned from the experience of those involved in the prevention of tobacco use and cardiovascular disease.

"The most over-arching lesson is that there is, indeed, the potential for success in combating such a far-reaching and deeply embedded societal pandemic," the authors write. "Avoiding unhealthy weight gain goes beyond the success of individual efforts to achieve good dietary quality and adequate physical fitness. It requires a broad range of strategies that include environmental and societal efforts."

Several of the study authors report relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.

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