At the behest of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) has
issued a report examining “the approaches to data collection, analysis,
and interpretation that have been used in recent reports on obesity
prevalence and trends at the national, state, and local level, particularly
among U.S. children, adolescents, and young adults.” Titled Assessing
Prevalence and Trends in Obesity: Navigating the Evidence, the report
reviews the literature to date, providing “a framework for assessing
and interpreting published reports,” as well as “recommendations for
improving future data collection efforts and filling data gaps.”

Given the various challenges presented by data collection—such as
inconsistencies among data sources; insufficient sample size; discrepancies
between measured and self-reported data index; and the limitations
inherent in trend estimates and interpretations—NAS offers the
Assessing Prevalence and Trends (APT) Framework to help stakeholders,
policymakers and other “end users” compare various studies and reports.
To this end, the framework directs these end users to (i) identify a goal or
information need; (ii) assess publish reports to determine how population,
methodology and analysis inform the interpretation of the estimate;
and (iii) interpret their findings in light of their information needs and
decision making.

“The assessment of obesity prevalence and trends estimates continues to
change with technological, methodological, and statistical advancements.
Some of the inconsistencies and limitations that currently exist in the
literature represent prime opportunities for improvement and progress,”
concludes NAS, which also urges RWJF and other national groups to
convene a cross-section of relevant stakeholders to set standards for data
collection and reporting. “For this reason, the committee recommends
that the research community design and conduct studies to strengthen
the evidence base and improve methodological approaches to assessing


Issue 609

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.