(April 29) Few countries win a war alone. They usually have allies.

Similarly, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has become an ally of the Department of Health and Human Services — and the Produce for Better Health Foundation — in the war on obesity in the U.S. Story, Page A4

The problem has reached astounding proportions: More than 60% of Americans are overweight or obese, creating expensive health problems.

Consumption of fruits and vegetables, a primary tool in battling overweight, is far below recommended levels.

Joining forces with another substantial, high-dollar backer of health and nutrition efforts will be a strong start in a campaign to reverse the trend. Such unprecedented cooperation between Cabinet-level agencies is long overdue.

But where does the effort go from here?

One significant portion of the USDA’s job will be to re-examine the food pyramid. Introduced in 1992, it doesn’t appear to have had an effect on consumer behavior. Making it more consumer friendly may make the message easier to communicate. But no one yet knows what it takes to change consumer behavior. That may be the sticking point in this war.

Research is expensive and time consuming, but it may be the only way to turn the tide. Combining 5 a Day’s track record with the might — and money — of government should set the tone for the century.