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Book and Media Reviews
February 22, 2006

Childhood Obesity

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2006;295(8):941. doi:10.1001/jama.295.8.941-a

One needs but to walk down a beach or through a mall to confirm what numerous media reports tell us: Americans are getting fatter. For those of us caring for children and adolescents, this epidemic is both obvious and alarming, as we increasingly see the direct health consequences of obesity among the youth in our care.

According to age- and sex-specific body mass index (BMI) standards, developed from national data collected from 1963 to 1994, the rates for childhood obesity have approximately tripled during the past 3 decades. In 2002, Congress directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to request that the Institute of Medicine develop an action plan to prevent childhood obesity. The Institute of Medicine assembled an impressive 19-member panel of experts (including a valued colleague of mine here at Stanford), chaired by Jeffery Koplan. After six meetings, an extensive literature review, a commissioned article discussing “lessons learned” from earlier public health and social change campaigns, and, no doubt, extensive communications among the members, this impressively complete and quite readable report was published. (The article is included in the appendix.)