In 2009, the Obama Administration took aim at obesity—particularly childhood obesity—with its Let’s Move program, which brings together several federal agencies to focus on improving nutrition and encouraging exercise. State and local governments are also trying to combat obesity by legislating policies and food environments to make healthy nutrition and physical activity choices more available and affordable. Some local governments are providing tax breaks and streamlined permits to encourage fresh-food grocers and farmers’ markets to set up shop in neighborhoods that need them, and zoning neighborhoods to encourage more sidewalks and bicycle paths.
Public health experts believe that the best way to attack the obesity crisis is to prevent people from becoming obese in the first place. They especially emphasize children, based on a finding from the landmark Bogalusa Heart Study conducted by Tulane University between 1972 and 2005: 77% of obese children go on to become obese adults, while only 7% of non-obese children do. Other studies show that school-based programs can help prevent and reduce obesity. Currently, Packaged Facts estimates that U.S. retail sales of the weight management products and services (foods and beverages, meal replacements and diet aids, and commercial weight management programs) topped $36.9 billion in 2012. Commercial weight management programs are projected to pick up steam by 2015 and grow the fastest through 2017, based on expansion to online and new markets and cyclical innovation.