Energy Balance at a Crossroads: Translating the Science into Action

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One of the major challenges facing the United States is the high number of overweight and obese adults and the growing number of overweight and unfit children and youth. To improve the nation’s health, young people must move into adulthood without the burden of obesity and its associated chronic diseases.PurposeTo address these issues, the American College of Sports Medicine, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the US Department of Agriculture/Agriculture Research Service convened an expert panel meeting in October 2012 titled “Energy Balance at a Crossroads: Translating the Science into Action.” Experts in the fields of nutrition and exercise science came together to identify the biological, lifestyle, and environmental changes that will most successfully help children and families attain and manage energy balance and tip the scale toward healthier weights.MethodsTwo goals were addressed: 1) professional training and 2) consumer/community education. The training goal focused on developing a comprehensive strategy to facilitate the integration of nutrition and physical activity (PA) using a dynamic energy balance approach for regulating weight into the training of undergraduate and graduate students in dietetics/nutrition science, exercise science/PA, and pre-K–12 teacher preparation programs and in training existing cooperative extension faculty. The education goal focused on developing strategies for integrating dynamic energy balance into nutrition and PA educational programs for the public, especially programs funded by federal/state agencies.ResultsThe meeting expert presenters and participants addressed three key areas: 1) biological and lifestyle factors that affect energy balance, 2) undergraduate/graduate educational and training issues, and 3) best practices associated with educating the public about dynamic energy balance.ConclusionsSpecific consensus recommendations were developed for each goal.

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