Obesity rates are increasing in most countries throughout the world. The reasons for the increase are complex and involve biological, behavioural and environmental factors. We have unintentionally created environments that encourage over-eating and discourage physical activity. Despite the recognition of the seriousness of obesity to public health, no interventions have been effective in reducing obesity rates on a population basis. Reversing obesity rates within populations will require addressing both individual behaviour and the obesogenic environment. Obesity rates could be reduced by treating affected individuals or by preventing the gradual increase in body weights of the population. Success in long-term obesity treatment is poor and appears to require that large behaviour changes be made and sustained. An alternative approach is to promote small lifestyle changes to prevent the gradual increase in the body weight of populations. America On the Move is an initiative based on promoting small lifestyle changes to prevent weight gain in the US population. This is one strategy could be used in other countries to reduce obesity rates. © 2007 The Authors.