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State policy seems to have done very little to curb the increasing incidence of obesity in America. Obesity is growing and practically all the States are finding it difficult to meet the national target of reducing obesity rates to less than 15%.
Obesity in adults is indeed alarming but what deserves more attention of the authorities is that 16% of children have a body mass index of 25.5 or above. This should be enough to raise the alarm as obesity is a major cause behind serious conditions like Diabetes, Hypertension, Heart Disease and stroke. And therefore, obesity can ultimately have a direct affect on the average life expectancy of Americans.
Another matter of concern is that the poor and the disabled are more impacted by obesity. Technological changes over the last century have made calories relatively cheaper. On the other hand exercise has become more expensive. As nearly half the medical costs are paid by Medicare and Medicaid, the inability to address the problem impacts every tax payer in the country.
It is necessary to address obesity problems at the individual level through different weight loss solutions but reduction in the heavy growth rates does not seem possible without active involvement of the State and Federal governments.
One suggestion is to promote residential neighborhoods with crime free environments so that roads are safe to walk on. Ensuring cycling paths is another way of increasing physical activity among the general public. Information about the different solutions for obesity that can be adopted can be disseminated in a mass communication campaign. An attempt should be made to urge people to adopt natural weight lossand herbal weight loss as a part of daily life to reduce the financial burden that weight loss medications can put on the poor.
All said and done, the fact is that the obesity epidemic is for real. A multi pronged strategy is required to check its growth. This could involve public disclosure, courts, taxes, school policy and health screening. The State needs to provide a broad range of tools through primary care, local government and public partnerships. Some suggestions are:
* Further progress is required on the matter of labeling food products with easily understandable information.
* Judicial procedures need to be simplified with regards to charges of misleading advertisement that lure children to buy products bad for their health.
* A tax on non-nutritional food products should be considered.
* Re-examination is required of physical education and the availability of junk-food through vending machines in schools.
* Public health screening can be introduced as in the case of Diabetes and sexually transmitted diseases. This may bring forth concerns with regards to individual privacy of citizens but it does benefit the overall public health at large.
Political risks usually act as hurdles in a government’s efforts to formulate policy. Obesity should not be treated leniently simply because it is not caused by external factors like tobacco or pathogens. Obesity should be tackled at the national level with the same fervor that the anti-smoking or the green movement have.
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