Practice Guideline Briefs

Controlling Obesity: School, Work, and Leisure



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Am Fam Physician. 2006 Jan 1;73(1):167-168.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Task Force on Community Preventive Services reviewed school- and worksite-based strategies for the short-term prevention and control of overweight and obesity. The full report, “Public Health Strategies for Preventing and Controlling Overweight and Obesity in School and Worksite Settings,” was published in the October 7, 2005, issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Recommendations and Reports and is available online at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5410a1.htm.

The task force found insufficient evidence to make recommendations on school-based interventions. However, the report suggests interventions that result in small but positive changes may be useful, such as programs that combine nutrition and physical activity elements, allocation of additional time for physical education during the school day, inclusion of noncompetitive sports such as dance, and reduction of sedentary activities such as watching television.

For worksite-based strategies, the task force recommends the use of combined nutrition and physical activity programs, and it suggests that employers be given evidence on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of worksite interventions to control overweight and obesity. Cost-effectiveness data can be found on the Community Guide Web site at http://www.thecommunityguide.org/obese.

The task force concluded that much more research is needed to enable the control and reversal of obesity trends. Topics for potential study include parental involvement, outcomes of environmental changes such as making stairs more accessible and providing easy access to nutritious food, the combination of work and community-based interventions, and strategies for maintaining initial weight-loss success.

Leisure-Time Inactivity

According to another CDC report, participation in physical activity outside the workplace has improved in the past decade. The report, “Trends in Leisure-Time Physical Inactivity by Age, Sex, and Race/Ethnicity—United States, 1994–2004,” was published in the October 7, 2005, issue of MMWR and is available online at http://www. cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5439a5.htm.

The report states that the percentage of the U.S. population that participates in no physical activity outside of regular work decreased between 1994 and 2004 in every age group. However, more than 30 percent of adults 70 years or older are inactive, and the CDC recommends that public health messages focus on raising awareness of opportunities for physical activity. The report also suggests that community programs be made more accessible to racial minorities to reduce disparities among ethnic groups.



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