Recommendations made in the report included modifying the environment to affect people's choices, such as availability of high-fat, low-fiber foods and sweetened drinks, adequate sidewalks and areas for physical activity, availability of public transportation and more.
"For example, urban planners can play an important role by making cities that don't require so much driving," said Ayoob.
Changes like these may take much of the burden off individuals struggling with obesity, giving them more of a chance to overcome their weight problems.
"Think about the alternative to a population-based approach; so far we don't have treatments that are really effective, and the number of obese is so high that you can't get to everyone soon enough," said Kumanyika. "By doing things at the policy level -- such as healthier meals in schools, smaller food portion sizes in restaurants, sidewalks in communities, et cetera -- you reach more people faster."
And a widespread approach could go a long way in creating a social environment in which healthy living is the norm.
"You need to create a culture where you are the odd man or woman out to take the elevator," says Katz.
Dr. Sami Bég is the Associate Medical Director of U.S. Preventive Medicine