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.

Forum chair

Shiriki Kumanyika

University of Pennsylvania & International Obesity Task Force