Obesity: Activities of the Center

Advancing the role of psychology as related to obesity is a priority for the Center of Psychology and Health. The Health Team made a list of APA's obesity-related activities, and proposed the development of a public relations plan surrounding obesity to inform our members and the general public about the array of APA related products and resources.

Updated May 30, 2013

Education and Training

Continuing Education and Professional Development

Creating continuing education and professional development programs focused on health promotion and disease prevention (including attention to obesity), primary care and integrated health care.

High School Psychology Unit Lesson Plan

Finalizing and disseminating a draft problem-focused unit lesson plan with related resources for high school psychology teachers on "Childhood Obesity in the United States." The lesson plan, which was developed by a former chair of APA's Committee of Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS), provides a structure to teach about obesity by using the domains of the National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula. Request has been granted to reprint an article by APA Past President Suzanne Bennett Johnson, which provided the impetus for developing the lesson plan on obesity: The nation's childhood obesity epidemic: Health disparities in the making.


Collaboration with NIDDK

Collaborating with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) on training and other initiatives to advance the applications of behavioral and social science research to obesity. These include exploring the use of special placement arrangements for psychologists at NIDDK, disseminating announcements about funding opportunities and conferences, nominating psychologists for the NIDDK National Advisory Council, and featuring the work of NIDDK in Psychological Science Agenda, as well as public education initiatives.

National Diabetes Education Program

Participating in the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), a partnership with NIDDK, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and about 200 other public and private organizations. APA's representative on the NDEP Strategic Directions Group is Gareth Dutton, PhD, of the University of Alabama Medical Center. NDEP offers a vital opportunity to increase public awareness and knowledge of the seriousness of diabetes, its risk factors, and effective prevention strategies.

Partnership with NIA

Partnering with the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to promote the benefits of physical activity for older adults with its Go4Life program.

Science Advocacy

Advocating individually and with other organizations, such as through the Coalition for Health Funding and the Ad Hoc Group, to support significant increases for NIDDK and other Public Health Service agencies. APA presents written testimony each year to the House and Senate appropriations committees and advocates in support of adequate funding for research. APA also sponsors congressional briefings, such as the one last year on diabetes that featured NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin Rodgers and APA member Rena Wing.

Public Interest Advocacy

Supporting legislative and regulatory initiatives related to the prevention and treatment of obesity, which aim to: 1) promote healthy eating and physical activity; 2) increase public awareness and appropriate marketing; 3) provide health care services; and 4) improve data collection and tracking. These include support for the Healthy Lifestyles and Prevention (HeLP) America Act, the White House childhood obesity initiative, and full implementation of the obesity-related provisions of the Affordable Care Act (e.g., community transformation grants, childhood obesity demonstration project, and coverage of preventive health services).

Public Education and Outreach

Obesity Summit

Preparing a report and collaborating with presenters and other attendees of the Summit on Obesity in African American Women and Girls to develop a list of concrete action items that all can agree to support. This summit, which was convened by APA and the Association of Black Psychologists in October 2012 in Washington, D.C., was aimed at determining how to most effectively address obesity and excess weight in African American girls and women. As a signature part of APA's health disparities initiative, the goal was to increase public understanding of, and support for, research, training and interventions to reduce disparities and improve the overall health of underserved and vulnerable populations.

Consumer Reports Survey

Disseminating information about APA's work with Consumer Reports on a survey of licensed psychologists regarding diet and weight. Psychologists reported that how dieters manage their emotions is key to losing weight and maintaining weight loss.

YMCA Partnership

Partnering with the YMCA since 2008 on public education initiatives to promote health and wellness, as well as providing mutual expertise on projects and programs. Also working together on respective public education campaigns to address behavioral aspects of obesity and have jointly developed two workshops addressing health issues in the areas of chronic illnesses and obesity. The Y has also tapped APA for psychologists to serve on national committees including the Family Strengthening Initiative and African-American and Latino/Hispanic Health and Well-being Collaborative Report.

Stress in America Survey

Disseminating results of the annual, national Stress in America survey™, as part of APA's Mind/Body Health Public Education Campaign, which includes national and local outreach activities to educate the public about stress and the connection between psychological and physical health, as well as the pivotal role of psychologists in supporting healthy lifestyles and behavior change. The Stress in America survey measures attitudes and perceptions of stress among the general public and identifies leading sources of stress, common behaviors used to manage stress, and the impact of stress on our lives. The results of the survey draw attention to the serious physical and emotional implications of stress, including obesity, and the inextricable link between the mind and body. The most recent survey was released in February of 2013.

Public Education Campaign

Designing a segment of the APA Public Education Campaign to profile the work of psychology researchers and demonstrate how psychological research helps support successful treatment interventions for obesity and other behaviorally-linked health disorders.

Member Communications

Clinical Practice Guidelines

Developing Clinical Practice Guidelines for the treatment of obesity (as well as PTSD and depression). Following standards developed by the Institute of Medicine, the guidelines will be based on systematic reviews of the scientific literature and will be produced by multi-disciplinary teams of researchers, clinicians and patient representatives, with input from peer and public reviewers. The process is designed to be transparent and to identify and resolve any conflicts of interest among those involved in guideline development. The initiative includes fostering relationships with other organizations and entities, and developing educational materials for panel members and others.