Obesity trend needs trimming
Published: Sunday, July 10, 2011
Updated: Sunday, July 10, 2011 16:07
Adult obesity is becoming a serious problem, but it's one that we can work toward fixing.
An annual report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Foundation finds that adult obesity rates have increased in 16 states and not declined in a single one. The report, titled "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future," shows that in 38 states, more than 25 percent of the population is obese.
What makes it worse is that the problem has grown consistently over the past two decades. Twenty years ago, no state had an obesity rate higher than 15 percent, according to the Washington Post. The new figures for the 38 states show an alarming trend that we need to combat in order to keep Americans healthy.
Those who suffer from obesity run a series of risks to their health. According to the National Cancer Institute, obesity increases the risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. The Institute says that it also increases the risk of cancers of the breast, endometrium, colon, kidney and esophagus.
The trend can be changed, but it will require a focus on education. According to the Post, more than 33 percent of adults who earned less than $15,000 a year were obese, compared with 24.6 percent of those who made at least $50,000 a year. Also, nearly 33 percent of adults that did not graduate from high school are obese, compared with 21.5 percent of those who graduated from college or technical college, according to the Post.
These numbers clearly show that education is an important factor in fighting obesity. Higher levels of education and training mean better paying jobs, and these individuals are more likely to have time to cook food at home or invest in healthier choices. One possible reason for this is that those with less means find themselves buying inexpensive meals that are not healthy.
State governments will also have to step in and make sure that government aid is not directed toward unhealthy items. One unfortunate example comes from Kentucky, which is currently the seventh-fattest state in the country, according to the Glasgow Daily Times. The state is currently being lobbied by Yum!, the parent company of Kentucky Fried Chicken, to allow residents to be able to buy fast food with food stamps.
Supporters of this idea argue that having food stamps go to fast food restaurants helps those who don't live near grocery stores but still need to feed their families. Also, there are not restrictions on these stamps to stop people from buying unhealthy food at grocery stores. State governments will have to address this issue, as well as provide nutritional training to families so that they know the healthier options available to them.
Education and nutritional training alone won't do the trick though. We all will have to take it upon ourselves to be more physically active. The National Cancer Institute finds that the chief causes of obesity are a sedentary lifestyle and the excess consumption of high-calorie foods. In order to turn obesity rates around, people will have to make these changes on their own, but there is much that we can do as a country to move this process along.
Fighting obesity will improve the health of our citizens. It is vitally important that we make this a national priority if we are to get serious about bending the cost curve on health care in America.