For the majority of Americans who do not use tobacco, the greatest behavioral risk factors for cancer are diet, levels of physicial activity, weight and the amount of alcohol consumption. In fact, excess weight increases the risk for 13 cancers. While rates of excess weight and obesity have begun to level off over the past decade, currently 69% of adults and 32% of young people ages two through 19 are overweight or obese.
ACS's Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention recommend that individuals achieve and maintain a healthy weight; adopt a physically active lifestyle; consume a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant-based foods; and limit the consumption of alcoholic beverages. The Guidelines also recommend that public, private and community organizations work collaboratively at all levels of government to implement policy and environmental changes that increase access to affordable, healthy foods; decrease access to foods with low nutritional value; and provide safe, accessible places for physical activity.
Multi-faceted policy approaches across a population can significantly enhance nutrition and physical activity and reduce obesity rates by removing barriers, changing social norms and increasing awareness.