Six in ten American adults are above what experts consider a healthy weight. More than a quarter of all adults are in the obese range, a rate that has doubled in less than twenty years. The weight boom has hit children just as hard, with obesity rates tripling in the last three decades. The excess pounds often trigger major health problems, including heart disease and diabetes -- conditions that worsen in adulthood. Obesity has severe social consequences, as well. Overweight youth are often teased and even ridiculed, causing emotional scars that can last a lifetime.
The purpose of this guide is to encourage public deliberation about the problem and what we can do about it. While people have differing opinions on the issue, most agree that multiple factors contribute to our overweight society. To tackle the problem successfully, everyone needs to be involved -- families, schools, health and social service programs, community and faith based groups, government, and industry.