Report of the Working Group on Obesity: Appendix D - August 11, 2003, Charge Memorandum

Table of Contents

Food and Drug Administration
Rockville MD 20857

FROM: Commissioner of Food and Drugs

TO: Lester M. Crawford, DVM, Ph.D. Deputy Commissioner Food and Drug Administration

DATE: August 11, 2003

SUBJECT: FDA Obesity Working Group

I am requesting the formation of a Working Group to confront the current obesity epidemic in the United States and to develop new and innovative ways to help consumers lead healthier lives through better nutrition. This issue is a top priority of the Office of the Commissioner as well as of the public health community both within and outside of government, because of the importance of consumer choices in preventing the serious health consequences associated with obesity, and in improving the health of the population. I am requesting that you serve as the Chair of this Working Group. Because the leadership role on nutrition issues in FDA resides within the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), I am requesting that Joseph Levitt, Director of CFSAN, assist you as the Vice Chair of this Working Group.

The goal of the FDA Obesity Working Group is to issue, within six months, a report that includes an action plan setting out specific means for developing and implementing the following goals:

  1. Message.

    • The Working Group will develop a clear, coherent, and effective FDA message (within the broader context of DHHS) that will unify various public and private efforts to reverse the current obesity epidemic.
  2. Education Program to Deliver the Message.

    • Outline an FDA program (component of DHHS program) for educating Americans about obesity and the means to prevent the disease.
  3. Supporting the Message.

    • Food Labels: Develop an approach for enhancing and improving the food label to assist consumers in preventing weight gain and reducing obesity;
    • Restaurants: Develop an approach for working with the restaurant industry to create an environment conducive to better informed consumers;
    • Therapeutic Treatment: Develop an approach for facilitating the development of therapeutics for the treatment of obesity;
    •  Research: Identify applied and basic research needs relative to obesity that include the development of healthier foods as well as a better understanding of consumer behavior and motivation.
  4. Stakeholder Investment to Ensure Results.

    • Provide for an active dialogue with outside invested stakeholders including consumer groups, academia, and the food and restaurant industry on developing a framework for consumers to receive messages about reducing obesity and achieving better nutrition.

Please consult with Joe Levitt as soon as possible regarding those who should be called upon to serve on the Working Group either as members or as supporting staff. While I encourage you to include experts from across FDA's Centers, as well as the Office of the Commissioner, I expect the Working Group's activities to be focused in and led by CFSAN. I also encourage you to seek the advice and input of other HHS agencies as needed.

Please report back to me by September 12, 2003, regarding the membership of the Working Group and an overall timetable for the group's work.

Thank you in advance for assuming a leadership role in confronting this extremely important and challenging public health crisis.

Mark B. McClellan, M.D.; Ph.D.

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